If you are expecting a baby, congratulations! This is an exciting time as you get ready for your little one. Shopping for infant clothes, decorating a baby room, or preparing siblings for a brother or sister are part of the excitement of this joyous occasion.
Just as important is making sure that you and your baby are healthy. If you were diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes before your pregnancy, managing your blood sugar level during pregnancy, in addition to your blood pressure and cholesterol, is essential.
Why Is Blood Sugar Control So Important?
Although monitoring your blood sugar before you were pregnant was very important, it is even more critical now. That’s because hormones that help your baby grow can cause higher-than-normal blood sugar levels, especially in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. Your baby’s heart and brain development is directly linked to blood sugar levels, so managing your blood sugar lowers the risk of pregnancy complications and birth defects.
Managing changing blood sugar levels may seem daunting, especially as you prepare for the arrival of a baby, but it is essential for your heath and the health of your baby. Use the tips below to keep your blood sugar level in check. Most of these are things you were probably already doing to manage your diabetes before you were pregnant.
Tips for Managing Your Blood Sugar
Here are things you can do to manage changing blood sugar levels during pregnancy:
- Know your target blood sugar level. Find out from your doctor what level is best for you and how often you should be checking. During your pregnancy, you and your doctor may have to check more often than you are used to. Be extra aware of any low blood sugar symptoms and know what to do if you notice them.
- Have a diabetic eye exam. Normal changes to your eyes during pregnancy can cause more severe problems if you have diabetes. Have your eyes examined in the 1st trimester, and if recommended by your eye care professional, also in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters.
- Take your prenatal vitamins every day. This is to ensure you and baby get the extra nutrients you need.
- Watch your weight gain. Extra weight gain can affect blood sugar levels, especially if you have type 2 diabetes. Talk to your doctor about the amount of weight gain that is appropriate for you.
- Stay physically active. Physical activity can help with blood sugar control and weight management. Check with your doctor about what types of physical activity are safe for you during pregnancy.
- Review all your medicines. It’s important to review all your prescription and over-the-counter medicines with your doctor or Rite Aid Pharmacist to be sure they are safe for you and baby. Toward the end of pregnancy, if you take insulin, your insulin dose might change frequently due to normal body changes. Your blood pressure and cholesterol medicines may also need to be adjusted.
In addition to your obstetrician or midwife, working with a doctor who specializes in diabetes during pregnancy is often helpful. Together, you and your healthcare team can help keep you and your baby healthy during (and long after) your pregnancy.
American Diabetes Association Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes 2015, Diabetes Care 2015; 38(Suppl 1):S77-S79. http://professional.diabetes.org/admin/UserFiles/0%20-%20Sean/Documents/January%20Supplement%20Combined_Final.pdf