Glucose is needed as fuel for the various functions of human body and brain. It requires hormone called insulin produced by the pancreas to get used by the cells. In diabetes, insulin is not sufficient in the body, making blood levels of sugar high and body is not able to use the glucose for the various functions. If you are a known diabetic, sugar levels should be in control before you plan a pregnancy. Pre-conceptional counseling is very important to prepare the body and mind for demands of pregnancy. HBA1C and sugar levels need to be checked and medication may need a modification to switch to a more safe option in pregnancy.
High Blood Sugar level and its effect on Pregnancy:
High blood sugar levels have different effects in different trimesters of pregnancy.
They can cause birth defects in the baby like neural tube defect or heart defect in the first trimester. It can also cause miscarriage. Miscarriage is defined as loss of the pregnancy before 20 weeks of gestation. Other complications related to diabetes can also occur in the mother. Desirable levels of blood sugar are-
Fasting- 70-100 mg/dl
2 hours postprandial- less than 120 mg/dl
How to manage blood sugar levels?
The right blood sugar levels can be achieved by a delicate balance between meals, exercise, and medication. Babies born to diabetic mothers are bigger in size or macrosomic i.e. >4 kgs. This is because mother’s sugar is high leading to increased sugar supply to the baby via the placenta. This causes increased insulin secretion in baby and more sugar being supplied and converted to fat in the baby.
Complications due to High Blood Sugar Levels:
Polyhydramnios: Can be described as an excess of amniotic fluid in the amniotic sac. It is usually seen in 1% of pregnancy cases.
Hypertension: High blood pressure induced due to high blood sugar and pregnancy. This can lead to preeclampsia.
Growth retardation in baby
Stillbirth- baby can die in the uterus after 20 weeks.
Babies of diabetic mothers are also monitored for falling blood sugar or hypoglycemia after birth. They are also watched for calcium and magnesium levels.
Tips for prevention of complications due to High Blood Sugar Levels or Diabetes:
Plan Your Pregnancy– Lose weight, control sugars and take pre-conceptional supplements like folic acid for better results
Consult your Doctor well – Visit your doctor early when you miss your periods and keep visiting regularly. Don’t miss your appointment
Eat healthy– meet a qualified dietitian and follow the diet plan advised by the dietitian
Exercise- is a must and cannot be skipped. Stay active in general. 30 minutes of moderate activity is advisable on most of the days, at least for five days a week
Don’t miss your medication
Keep a regular check on your blood sugar levels.
These are a few things we can follow and achieve a successful outcome with diabetic mothers as well. Miscarriage is a great mental trauma for the parents and should not be in any case taken lightly.