How to Manage Your Diabetes and Pregnancy

Giving Your Unborn Child the Best Possible Start in Life

If you have diabetes and are pregnant, you are no doubt aware that you need to take a few extra precautions while you are carrying your baby.

Factors which affect the developing embryo can have a lifelong effect on their lives. Especially significant is the amount of weight gained over the pregnancy.

Excessive weight gain has been linked to several conditions.

Pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure), gestational diabetes and childhood obesity have all been linked to excessive weight gain during pregnancy. However poor gestational weight gain can lead to a premature birth and low birth weight, both of which put the child at risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life.

Smoking can result in an underweight newborn with the baby having double the chance of becoming overweight later on.

Gestational Diabetes

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High blood sugar levels in women with pre-existing diabetes or those who develop gestational diabetes (contracting diabetes while pregnant) can saddle a baby will lasting metabolic problems for life.

Steps can be taken to protect your unborn child. Follow these easy tips to help prevent problems in later life for you and your child.

If you are thinking of trying to conceive, give yourself a few months to give up bad habits such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and recreational drug use. Both parents need to have a healthy diet with sufficient exercise if a baby is to have the best possible start in life.

It is important for both parents not to be overweight. Obesity can affect male fertility so if you're heavier than you should be, eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, low GI carbohydrates, low-fat dairy products and lean protein. A weight loss of 0.5kg a week will enable you to sustain your new weight. Talk to your doctor about how much weight gain is good for you.

Good Nutrition for Gestational Diabetes

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Learn how to manage blood sugar levels throughout your pregnancy.

Smoking is an absolute no-no during pregnancy. It can reduce fertility in both sexes. For pregnant women, it can lead to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, premature birth and even stillbirth. There is also evidence to suggest that sudden infant death syndrome is a greater risk for babies born to mothers who smoke.

Alcohol also affects fertility in both sexes. When you first conceive, you won't know you're pregnant. Because the baby's organs will be starting to develop from day one, stop alcohol consumption as soon as you start trying to conceive.

Take a folate supplement. This vitamin B group substance will reduce the risk of a baby developing defects such as spina bifida. Those with diabetes are believed to be at a higher risk and doctors generally advise taking up to 5mg per day. (the normal recommended rate is 500mcg per day).

If you're taking insulin and diabetes medication, check with your doctor if you wish to become pregnant. Some of these medications, plus some of those prescribed for high blood pressure and high cholesterol have not been tested as safe for use by pregnant or nursing mothers. Take care with herbal products, and vitamin and mineral supplements if you normally take them.

Keep your blood glucose levels at a healthy level. Ensure your levels are acceptable before even trying to conceive. This will mean much less likelihood of the baby developing problems.

Breastfeeding can protect your newborn again obesity and type 2 diabetes. It also reduces the risk of him/her contracting type 1 diabetes. If you have developed gestational diabetes during your pregnancy, breastfeeding will lessen the risk of you contracting full-blown type 1 diabetes in the future.

These few precautions will give your baby the greatest chance of starting out in life as a healthy little individual with a much reduced chance of developing health problems later.