The action plan
Your diabetes health care team will help you establish your target blood sugar range. Then it's up to you to make healthy lifestyle choices and follow your diabetes treatment plan.
Remember the basics:
- Check your blood sugar level often. Frequent blood sugar monitoring can help you prevent low blood sugar and high blood sugar (hyperglycemia). Remember, controlling your blood sugar level is the best way to promote a healthy pregnancy and prevent diabetes complications.
- Take diabetic medications as directed. Your health care provider will discuss the best diabetic medication to take in pregnancy. While some oral diabetic medications are safe to use in pregnancy, others have not been well-studied. Discuss all medications with your health care provider, before stopping or continuing to take them. If you also have hypertension, some medications — such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors — should not be taken during pregnancy. Again, talk to your health care provider about all your medications.
- Be flexible. You'll need to adjust your medication dosage depending on your blood sugar level, what you eat, whether you're vomiting and various other factors. Your stage of pregnancy matters, too. During the last three months of pregnancy, for example, hormones made by the placenta to help the baby grow can block the effect of insulin in your body. As a result, you might need more medication than usual to counteract that resistance.
- Eat a healthy diet. Your diabetes diet probably includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Although you can eat the same foods during pregnancy, your health care provider or registered dietitian might suggest changes to your meal plan to help you avoid problems with low blood sugar or high blood sugar. It's also important to take prenatal vitamins containing folic acid.
- Include physical activity in your daily routine. Get your health care provider's OK to exercise, then choose activities you enjoy. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity three times a week. If you haven't been active for a while, start slowly. Check your blood sugar level before and after any activity, especially if you take insulin. You might need to eat a snack. Or have your health care provider adjust your medication before exercising to help prevent low blood sugar.
- Schedule regular prenatal checkups. Your health care provider might recommend extra clinic appointments and prenatal screening tests to monitor your baby's growth and development.
Remember, your health care team is there to help you manage your blood sugar level and prevent complications. If you have questions or concerns, don't hesitate to ask for help.
Labor and delivery: What to expect
Your health care team will help you determine the best time and safest way to deliver your baby. Sometimes labor is allowed to begin naturally. In other cases, labor may need to be induced to reduce the risk of complications.
During labor, your health care team will closely monitor your blood sugar level and adjust your medication dosage accordingly. If your baby is too large, an induction isn't successful or you develop complications, you might need a C-section.
After delivery, your attention will turn to your baby — but it's still important to take care of yourself. Continue to check your blood sugar level often, especially if you're breast-feeding. Keeping yourself healthy is the best thing you can do for your baby.
Nov. 16, 2017
See more In-depth
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- Padayachee C, et al. Exercise guidelines for gestational diabetes mellitus. World Journal of Diabetes. 2015;6:1033.
- Management of diabetes in pregnancy. Diabetes Care. 2016;39(suppl):S94.
- Frequently asked questions. Pregnancy FAQ176. A healthy pregnancy for women with diabetes. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/A-Healthy-Pregnancy-for-Women-with-Diabetes. Accessed Oct. 5, 2017.
- Ecker JL. Pregestational diabetes mellitus: Obstetrical issues and management. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Oct. 5, 2017.
- Diabetes and pregnancy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/pregnancy/diabetes.html. Accessed Oct. 5, 2017.
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