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Diabetes and Pregnancy

Diabetes and Pregnancy

Diabetes can cause problems during pregnancy for women and their developing babies. Poor control of diabetes during pregnancy increases the chances for birth defects and other problems for the pregnancy. It can also cause serious complications for the woman. Proper health care before and during pregnancy can help prevent birth defects and other health problems.

About Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition in which the body cannot use the sugars and starches (carbohydrates) it takes in as food to make energy. The body either makes no insulin or too little insulin or cannot use the insulin it makes to change those sugars and starches into energy. As a result, extra sugar builds up in the blood.

The three most common types of diabetes are:

Type 1

The pancreas makes no insulin or so little insulin that the body can’t use blood sugar for energy. Type 1 diabetes must be controlled with daily insulin.

Type 2

The body either makes too little insulin or can’t use the insulin it makes to use blood sugar for energy. Sometimes type 2 diabetes can be controlled through eating a proper diet and exercising regularly. Many people with type 2 diabetes have to take diabetes pills, insulin, or both.

Gestational

This is a type of diabetes that is first seen in a pregnant woman who did not have diabetes before she was pregnant. Often gestational diabetes can be controlled through eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Sometimes a woman with gestational diabetes must also take insulin.

For most women with gestational diabetes, the diabetes goes away soon after delivery. When it does not go away, the diabetes is called type 2 diabetes. Even if the diabetes does go away after the baby is born, half of all women who had gestational diabetes develop type 2 diabetes later. It’s important for a woman who has had gestational diabetes to continue to exercise and eat a healthy diet after pregnancy to prevent or delay getting type 2 diabetes. She should also remind her doctor to check her blood sugar every 1 to 3 years.

Genetics and Family History

Genetics: Understanding genetic factors and genetic disorders is important for learning more about preventing birth defects, developmental disabilities, and other unique conditions in children.

  • Family History: Family members share their genes and their environment, lifestyles, and habits. A family history can help identify possible disease risks for you and your baby.
  • Genetic Counselor: Your doctor might suggest that you see a genetic counselor if you have a family history of a genetic condition or have had several miscarriages or infant deaths.

Other Concerns

Bleeding and Clotting Disorders: Bleeding and clotting disorders can cause serious problems during pregnancy, including miscarriage. If you have a bleeding or clotting disorder, talk with your doctor.

Disaster Safety for Expecting and New Parents: Learn general tips to get prepared before a disaster and what to do in case of a disaster to help keep you and your family safe and healthy.

Travel: If you are planning a trip within the country or internationally, talk to your doctor first. Travel might cause problems during pregnancy. Also, find out about the quality of medical care at your destination and during transit.

Violence and Pregnancy: Violence can lead to injury and death among women in any stage of life, including during pregnancy. Learn more about violence against women, and find out where to get help.

Things to Think About Before Baby Arrives

Breastfeeding: You and your baby gain many benefits from breastfeeding. Breast milk is easy to digest and has antibodies that can protect your baby from bacterial and viral infections.

Jaundice and Kernicterus: Jaundice can sometimes lead to brain damage in newborns. Before leaving the hospital, ask your doctor or nurse about a jaundice bilirubin test. If you think your baby has jaundice, call and visit your baby’s doctor right away.

Newborn Screening: Within 48 hours of your baby’s birth, a sample of blood is taken from a “heel stick,” and the blood is tested for treatable diseases. More than 98% of all children born in the United States are tested for these disorders.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): Learn what parents and caregivers can do to help babies sleep safely and reduce the risk of sleep-related infant deaths, including SIDS.

Child Safety Seats: Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children in the United States. But many of these deaths can be prevented. Placing your baby in age- and size-appropriate restraint system lowers the risk of serious and fatal injuries by more than half.

5. Avoid Toxic Substances and Environmental Contaminants

Avoid harmful chemicals, environmental contaminants, and other toxic substances such as synthetic chemicals, metals, fertilizer, bug spray, and cat or rodent feces around the home and in the workplace. These substances can hurt the reproductive systems of men and women. They can make it more difficult to get pregnant. Exposure to even small amounts during pregnancy, infancy, childhood, or puberty can lead to diseases. Learn how to protect yourself and your loved ones from toxic substances at work and at home.

6. Reach and Maintain a Healthy Weight

People who are overweight or obese have a higher risk for many serious conditions, including complications during pregnancy, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon).1 People who are underweight are also at risk for serious health problems.2

The key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight isn’t about short-term dietary changes. It’s about a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and regular physical activity.

If you are underweight, overweight, or obese, talk with your doctor about ways to reach and maintain a healthy weight before you get pregnant.

7. Get Help for Violence

Violence can lead to injury and death among women at any stage of life, including during pregnancy. The number of violent deaths experienced by women tells only part of the story. Many more survive violence and are left with lifelong physical and emotional scars.

If someone is violent toward you or you are violent toward your loved ones―get help. Violence destroys relationships and families.

8. Learn Your Family History

Collecting your family’s health history can be important for your child’s health. You might not realize that your sister’s heart defect or your cousin’s sickle cell disease could affect your child, but sharing this family history information with your doctor can be important.

Other reasons people go for genetic counseling include having had several miscarriages, infant deaths, trouble getting pregnant (infertility), or a genetic condition or birth defect that occurred during a previous pregnancy.

9. Get Mentally Healthy

Mental health is how we think, feel, and act as we cope with life. To be at your best, you need to feel good about your life and value yourself. Everyone feels worried, anxious, sad, or stressed sometimes. However, if these feelings do not go away and they interfere with your daily life, get help. Talk with your doctor or another health professional about your feelings and treatment options.

10. Have a Healthy Pregnancy!

Once you are pregnant, be sure to keep up all of your new healthy habits and see your doctor regularly throughout pregnancy for prenatal care.

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