Metabolic Health

Know How does Diabetes Affect Pregnancy?

Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

Diabetes is a condition that affects how the body uses blood sugar. There are many types of diabetes, the most common being type 2 diabetes, also called adult-onset diabetes. However, did you know that there is another kind of diabetes? Gestational or pregnancy diabetes occurs during pregnancy, causing women without a prior diagnosis of diabetes to have high blood sugar levels. Almost all women with gestational diabetes deliver healthy babies. Still, it is essential to understand the effects of diabetes on pregnancy and how this type of diabetes can impact your baby.

In some cases, babies will have to be treated in the neonatal intensive care unit after birth. Babies of mothers with gestational diabetes are also at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. In many cases, diabetes in pregnancy treatment can help reduce the risks discussed below. There are a few key symptoms of diabetes during pregnancy. These include excessive thirst and urination, extreme hunger, weight loss, fatigue, and blurred vision. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to speak with your doctor as soon as possible.

1. Birth Defects (Congenital Disabilities)

A few specific congenital disabilities are more likely to occur in babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes. These include problems with the baby's heart, brain, spine, and kidneys.

2. An Extra-large Baby

The birth of an extra-large baby is a rare but severe complication in pregnancies with gestational diabetes. These babies are at risk for difficulty breathing, low blood sugar, and jaundice. The baby may need to be delivered early to prevent concerns in some cases. If you are pregnant and have gestational diabetes, get regular prenatal care. This will help ensure that your baby is monitored closely and has a smooth delivery.

3. C-Section (Cesarean Section)

While a C-section is typically a safe procedure, it can carry some additional risks for women with gestational diabetes. In some cases, a C-section may be the only way to deliver the baby safely, and the doctor will help minimise the risk of complications.

4. High Blood Pressure (Pre-eclampsia)

It is a condition that affects some pregnant women and can cause headaches, blurred vision, swelling in the hands and feet, and protein in the urine.

5. Early (Pre-term) Birth

It can cause early delivery, low birth weight, and seizures in the baby.

6. Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia)

It can occur during pregnancy due to the placenta and the foetus's hormones. These hormones can cause the pancreas to produce less insulin and lead to low blood sugar. It can happen when the pregnant woman has not eaten enough, has exercised too much, or has had too much alcohol. Symptoms of low blood sugar include feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or faint; having a headache; feeling shaky or trembling; sweating; and having a rapid or irregular heartbeat.

7. Miscarriage or Stillbirth

It is a genuine risk for pregnant women who have gestational diabetes that their babies may be born prematurely or have low birth weight. If you have gestational diabetes, it is essential to monitor your blood sugar levels carefully and follow your doctor's instructions closely. You should also let your doctor know if you experience any signs of miscarriage or stillbirth, such as vaginal bleeding or cramping.

How to Manage Diabetes in Pregnancy

Management of diabetes in pregnancy can be a scary thing for both the mother and the baby. However, it can be a relatively easy condition to handle with the proper knowledge and management. Here are some tips on how to manage pregnancy diabetes:

1. Plan for Pregnancy

If you have any symptoms of diabetes, it is advisable to consult your doctor before planning your pregnancy to avoid diabetes and pregnancy complications later on.

2. See Your Doctor Early and Often

Ensure to consult with your doctor regularly to track your blood sugar levels and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan. It is always better to monitor your blood pressure and keep it under control. Maintain a chart of your BP reading to share the same with your doctor when required, and be alert as fluctuations in blood sugar levels can impact the health of both baby and mother. 

3. Eat Healthy Foods

Taking care of your diet is one of the best home remedies for gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Ensure that you eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and is rich in nutrients and low in sugar.

4. Exercise Regularly

Exercise is an essential point in the management of diabetes in pregnancy. Try to be regular in your exercise routine, which can be done as per the instructions from your medical and fitness consultant.

5. Take Pills and Insulin as Directed

Take medication, pills and insulin as prescribed by your doctor. Self-medication should be strictly avoided with symptoms of diabetes during pregnancy. 

Bottomline

Diabetes is a disorder that affects how the body uses blood sugar. When a woman has pregnancy diabetes, it can cause serious health issues for both the mother and baby. There is a lot of information on diabetes and pregnancy, but it can be hard to know where to start. In this article, we discussed the symptoms and effects of diabetes on pregnancy, including congenital disabilities, an extra-large baby, c-section, preterm birth, or miscarriage or stillbirth. This requires great management during diabetes in pregnancy.

Maintaining a regular chart to monitor your glucose levels while discussing with your doctor during regular visits is important. Adhere to the routine of taking prescribed medication, including pills and insulin. During pregnancy, the importance of regular exercise cannot be undermined, and if ignored, it affects both the mother and child. As an initial step, discuss with your doctor and understand if it is a Type 1 diabetes pregnancy or Type 2 diabetes pregnancy to rule out any risk factors.

Book a Free Session

Back to Top

1-on-1 call with our health counsellor