The International Diabetes Federation reports that in 2012, out of the global population of reproductive-aged women, about 28 million had diabetes.
It is recommended that women with diabetes who wish to get pregnant manage blood glucose levels before they start trying for a baby. Failing to monitor blood glucose levels, especially in the early stages of pregnancy, may increase the baby’s risk of having a birth defect to 30-40%.
How Hormones Alter Blood Glucose Levels
As hormones change throughout the different stages of pregnancy, they can increase blood glucose levels. Hormones produced by the placenta also affect insulin levels. The placenta produces hormones that promote the growth of the fetus, and these hormones also obstruct the role of insulin in the mother’s body. Insulin resistance is one of the main reasons that women need extra care to manage blood glucose levels during pregnancy.
Speak With Your Physician About Your Current Blood Glucose Management Methods
Your healthcare provider may caution against using diabetes pills throughout your pregnancy. If this is the case, you may need to switch to diabetes management through the use of insulin. Administering insulin with an insulin pump can help regulate blood glucose levels accurately and efficiently and new touchscreen insulin pumps are simpler to learn than previous models.
Check Your Blood Glucose Levels Frequently
Changes in hormones, as well as your growing baby, may cause blood glucose levels to change quickly. It is important to continue to monitor your glucose levels according to your diabetes management plan. When discussing your plans to get pregnant with your healthcare professional, you may be advised to monitor blood glucose levels more frequently than usual.
Understand Your Target Numbers
The Joslin-Beth Israel Deaconess Pregnancy Program recommends the following target numbers for blood glucose levels for women who have diabetes and are trying to conceive:
- 80-110 mg/dl – fasting and before meals
- 100-155 mg/dl – one hour after eating
- A1C levels less than 7%
These numbers differ from those needed by individuals with diabetes who are not trying to conceive. Blood sugar levels can change quickly, and it may take some time to get used to these new target numbers.
Continue to Exercise Regularly and Follow a Nutritious Diet
Before conception, it is important to continue to exercise regularly and follow a diabetes-friendly diet as laid out by your diabetes management team. Speak with your healthcare provider about what exercises are safe and suggested for pregnant women, and if extra measures can be taken, such as wearing specialist socks from Circufiber, to promote circulation.
Know the Signs of Low Blood Glucose Levels
- Increased hunger
- Sweating more than usual
- Feelings of anxiousness
- Dizziness and shakiness
- Increased heart rate
Know the Signs of High Blood Glucose Levels
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Blurred vision
- Mental fogginess
For women with diabetes, extra attention is essential to ensure a healthy pregnancy, but managing your blood glucose levels can be done with the help of your diabetes management team.
Speak to your healthcare provider if you are considering pregnancy, and continue to work closely with your diabetes management team to monitor the efficacy of your diabetes management plan and the health of you and your baby.