Diabetes And Pregnancy

Women in their childbearing years are often diagnosed with diabetes, which can profoundly affect both mother and child during a pregnancy. If the diabetes is not controlled well, the baby may suffer birth defects or any number of other serious problems. The mother may also encounter complications during the pregnancy and birth, including miscarriage or stillbirth of her baby.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition in which the body is unable to use the carbohydrates it takes in as food, thus raising the amount of sugar in the blood. The pancreas, which produces insulin that regulates the blood sugar, is either unable to produce enough insulin or the body is unable to utilize the insulin the pancreas does produce. The result is that the body collects the unused sugars in the blood and releases some of it in the urine. This over supply of blood sugar can cause damage to the heart, kidneys and eyesight if it remains in the body too long. There are three common types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes, which only occurs during pregnancy and often disappears after the baby is born.

How Do I Control Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes requires insulin injections regularly in order to control the condition. In this case, the pancreas makes so little insulin the body is unable to use blood sugar for energy. People with Type 2 diabetes, where the pancreas either makes too little insulin or the body can't use the insulin properly, is best controlled with diet, exercise and medication-either injections or pills. Gestational diabetes occurs in women who did not have diabetes before their pregnancy and this type of diabetes can be controlled with proper diet, regular exercise and sometimes with injections. Many women who have gestational diabetes develop Type 2 diabetes later on.

Some Of The Problems Associated With Diabetes

People with diabetes encounter myriad problems such as high blood pressure, kidney disease, nerve damage, heart disease, and blindness. Keeping blood sugar under control can address many of these issues.

People with diabetes can go into a diabetic coma if their blood sugar is too high and they can develop hypoglycemia if their blood sugar is too low. Both of these conditions can be fatal and require close monitoring of blood sugar, treating symptoms quickly to avoid serious repercussions.

What Happens When A Woman With Diabetes Gets Pregnant?

When a woman with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes becomes pregnant, she not only experiences all of the same symptoms and requirements of a woman without diabetes, she also experiences rapid changes in her blood sugar. If she does not take proper care of herself before and during her pregnancy, she may develop any of the common problems associated with diabetes or, if she already has symptoms, they may become worse. Out-of-control blood sugar can cause an early delivery, difficulties in birthing due to an oversized baby, seizures or stroke and miscarriage or stillbirth.

The baby may be born with birth defects, be born too early and have a very low birth weight or be very large and have difficulty navigating the birth canal. Nerve damage, breathing problems, heart problems and the potential of developing diabetes are all potential risks to the unborn baby of a mother with diabetes.


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