Are you already expecting a little bundle of joy? If so, congratulations! Whether you’re ready to welcome a new member into your family, or you’re just curious about pregnancy and blood glucose, we’re here to help you learn more. The first thing you should remember is that your body is already going through many changes when you’re pregnant. You'll experience everything from morning sickness to weight gain, and if you have diabetes, it can complicate things further. This is especially true when it comes to things like preventing pregnancy complications and managing your blood glucose.
That’s why making smart choices when you’re pregnant can often be the best way to ensure a healthy pregnancy for both you and your baby! But before we dive into the ins and outs of being pregnant with diabetes, it’s important to distinguish between the different types of diabetes, as they can impact pregnancy differently.
There are three types of diabetes, all of which are slightly different from each other. While there’s a lot of talk about type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the third, gestational diabetes, doesn’t get nearly enough attention. But when we’re talking about diabetes during pregnancy, it may be one of the most important. Here’s what you need to know about each one:
Of course, it's important to remember that there can be exceptions regarding when and why each type of diabetes develops. Type 1 diabetes usually develops due to autoimmune reactions that destroy the cells in your pancreas that make insulin. In type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes, you will typically see an elevation in blood sugar levels outside of normal ranges. The elevation can occur due to a range of diet and lifestyle factors, as well as physiological changes during pregnancy.
Even if you don’t have diabetes, your blood glucose levels may fluctuate a bit more than usual due to pregnancy hormones. But your day-to-day blood glucose levels likely won’t change much. If you have diabetes, pregnancy can complicate blood glucose management.
This is because of pregnancy hormones like estrogen, cortisol, and human placental lactogen. They can block insulin and increase insulin resistance and blood glucose levels, something that is most prevalent in the third trimester. Pregnancy is a time when you’ll need to be in close contact with your healthcare team. So, don't worry if you have frequent adjustments in your insulin ratios and blood glucose corrections.
Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes or you’ve recently developed gestational diabetes, it can change how you approach things during your pregnancy. Any decisions you make now will affect more than just you. And if you don’t keep your blood glucose levels within a healthy range, you may see a host of complications arise. Some risk factors and health problems to watch out for include:
Don’t worry; this doesn’t mean that if you’re diabetic, you’re bound to encounter these issues. But it does mean that managing healthy blood glucose levels may be vital for your health and your baby’s health.
It’s a good idea to set up a proper prenatal care routine during the first few weeks of pregnancy. Testing your blood glucose levels per recommendations from your healthcare provider is a good idea. It's also essential to schedule regular follow-ups with your health care team to minimize the risk of potential health problems and pregnancy complications. Learning how to manage your diabetes effectively may also help you have a healthier pregnancy.
Whether you have diabetes, pre-diabetes, or you’re perfectly healthy, controlling glucose levels during pregnancy is beneficial for you and your baby. There’s no one-size-fits-all, of course, but healthy foods may help ensure a healthy baby! Here are a few general tips that can help:
For most healthy people, glucose levels return to normal after giving birth. For others, including those diagnosed with gestational diabetes, blood glucose may continue to stay elevated for some time. This is most likely due to the physiological changes you experience during pregnancy. They can increase insulin resistance, making it harder for your body to use the foods we eat for energy. This may become concerning since gestational diabetes can put you at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later on in life.
So what can you do about it? You already know prenatal care is important throughout your pregnancy. But don’t forget about postpartum care! Things like postpartum preeclampsia, backaches, even urinary incontinence can pop up after you give birth. And while shedding the baby weight (remember getting to a healthy weight is more important than just shedding pounds) may be at the top of your mind, consider thinking about blood glucose levels too.
Monitoring your glucose levels in postpartum can provide important information on your overall blood glucose trends, making it easier to implement lifestyle changes and address health problems. A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) may be a useful way to monitor these trends. In turn, this can help you reach your postpartum goals—whether these are decreasing your blood glucose levels, body composition changes, or improving energy levels.
After your new baby arrives, you’ll be needed in all kinds of new ways! And you’ll want to feel good, healthy, and full of energy. By focusing on your health, learning about your risk factors, and working toward better diabetes management, you can invest in your future and the future of your family.
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