Our Services : Diabetes Pre-Pregnancy Counseling

Diabetes Pre-Pregnancy Counseling

Why is diabetes pre-pregnancy counseling important?

Having a baby and deciding to become a parent is a big decision. Most women with diabetes can have healthy babies, but it's important to get the facts in order to reduce the risk of problems and anticipate the demands of a high-risk pregnancy.

Learning about the care that is involved for diabetes during pregnancy can help women make informed decisions about when to have a baby, how to plan for a healthy pregnancy, and what to expect during pregnancy.

What is pre-pregnancy counseling?

  • Talking with your primary care doctor/endocrinologist about diabetes and your desire for pregnancy or contraception
  • Working with a team of diabetes specialists who are knowledgeable about diabetes and pregnancy care
  • Talking with your doctor about health risks for you and your baby
  • Planning the best time to have a baby

How Does High Blood Glucose Before and During Pregnancy Affect My Baby?

When a mother's blood glucose is high, her baby is at risk for:

  • Birth defects, especially of the heart and spine
  • Miscarriage or stillbirth
  • Being abnormally small or large in size
  • Too much amniotic fluid, which can cause discomfort and lead to preterm labor
  • Jaundice
  • Problems controlling glucose and electrolyte levels
  • Problems breathing after birth

How can diabetes affects me during pregnancy?

  • Diabetes damages blood vessels in the eyes and kidneys. If diabetes has damaged eyes or kidneys before pregnancy, these problems may get worse with pregnancy
  • Diabetes puts women at risk for high blood pressure during pregnancy
  • Women with type 1 diabetes are at higher risk for developing diabetes ketoacidosis during pregnancy

What can I do before pregnancy to decrease my risks?

  • See a specialist who is experienced with diabetes and pregnancy care
  • Do not become pregnant until your blood glucose is well-controlled (check with your provider regarding specific glucose and A1c goals)
  • Make sure you've had a complete physical, dental exam, dilated eye exam and kidney screening in the last year
  • Monitor blood glucose before and either 1 or 2 hours after meals
  • Switch to medications that are suitable for pregnancy; this may mean switching from diabetes pills to insulin
  • Take prenatal vitamins when you decide to try to become pregnant
  • Stop smoking, consuming alcohol, or using recreational drugs
  • Share what you have learned with family and friends

What other information will I need to know?

  • When and where to obtain care during pregnancy
  • What to expect when you have diabetes and are pregnant
  • Changes involved with caring for your diabetes during pregnancy, managing morning sickness, etc.
  • Nutritional needs, weight gain goals, exercise recommendations
  • Changing medications for pregnancy
  • Increasing frequency of doctor and other medical appointments, including ultrasounds and other diagnostic tests

What if I decide not to become pregnant at this time?

  • Remember that it is always important to take care of your diabetes!
  • Find out about contraception and what to do if an unplanned pregnancy occurs
  • Have a complete physical each year, along with diabetes screenings of the eyes, kidneys, and cholesterol levels
  • See your doctor at least twice each year for diabetes care
  • Have your A1c measured every three to six months (recommended A1c goal when not pregnant is 6.5)
  • See your dentist twice a year
  • Exercise and eat healthy
  • Stop smoking cigarettes and/or using recreational drugs; use alcohol with caution and discuss the guidelines for this with your health care provider
  • Do your best to find coping mechanisms to handle stress and lead a happy, balanced life

How can I take the next step?

The Center for Perinatal Care at Meriter Hospital helps women greatly reduce the risk of problems during pregnancy. We recommend pre-pregnancy counseling for all women with diabetes that is preexisting including pre-diabetes, type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and cystic fibrosis related diabetes. Improving glucose control to normal levels and other pre-conceptional (pre-pregnancy) care helps to decrease risk for miscarriage and birth defects associated with diabetes.

Our diabetes and pregnancy program team consists of maternal-fetal medicine doctors, nurses, a diabetes nurse specialist, dietitian, social worker and others who can assist you in having a healthy pregnancy and baby. Our diabetes self-management education program is dedicated to helping you obtain your goals.

If you are interested in having diabetes pre-pregnancy counseling, contact your doctor for a referral to Meriter Hospital's Center for Perinatal Care.