- Type 1 diabetes – Develops when the body cannot produce any insulin.
Usually begins in childhood, and is detectable by adolescence. So in most cases, women planning pregnancy would already be aware of the presence of this kind of diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin to control their blood glucose.
- Type 2 diabetes –Develops when the body cannot produce enough insulin, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly. They are milder in adversity as compared to the Type 1 diabetes and can usually be treated with tablets to lower blood glucose, but some pregnant women require insulin injections.
- Gestational diabetes – It is a kind of diabetes that starts with pregnancy. This occurs when the mother’s body cannot produce enough extra insulin to meet the demands of pregnancy. This kind of diabetes goes away after having given birth. Suffering from gestational diabetes puts women at more risk for Type 2 diabetes.
The first two are types of diabetes that can plague a woman from before her pregnancy. She would typically be aware of them and hence be under strict medication in order to keep sugar levels under check.
Apart from that, some other risks associated with having any kind of diabetes during pregnancy are:
- inactiveness or excessive lethargy in expecting mothers
- Having a large baby which increases the chances of a C-section or an induced pregnancy
- There may be cases of diabetic retinopathy (eye problems) or diabetic nephropathy (kidney problems)
- There is a high risk of losing the baby ; higher chances of a stillborn baby
- Higher chances of not developing normally and having congenital abnormalities – particularly heart and nervous system abnormalities
- Running the risk of developing obesity or diabetes later in life
- Chances of suffering from health problems shortly after birth (such as heart and breathing problems) and needing hospital care
Some handy tips to follow to avoid diabetes and to keep it under check (if already detected with diabetes):
- Stop smoking and drinking.
- Get the HbA1C test done to assess level of glucose in the blood. Keeping it under six or seven percent is advisable.
If the blood glucose level is above 10 percent, then do not plan a baby until the glucose levels have fallen.
- Ingest folic acid tablets (400 to 800 micrograms daily up until the 12th week), as it helps prevent your baby from developing birth defects, such as Spina Bifida, a condition where the spine does not develop properly, leaving a gap in the spine.
- Eat nutrient-rich foods. Consult a dietician and get a proper meal plan made.
- Skip unsafe foods like raw meat, raw fish, smoked seafood, fish with high mercury levels (like tuna), and unpasteurized milk.
- Exercise regularly and do yoga (if possible). Take a 30-minute walk at lunchtime.
- Make sure that you don’t overeat and put on more weight than what is the prescribed level
- After delivery also maintain a close check on the sugar levels of the mother and baby. There may be instances of hypoglycaemia, a condition that refers to abnormally low blood glucose levels (typically less than 70 mg/dl), which needs to be avoided.
Good news is that in most cases, after delivery the mother’s diabetes seems to go away with time. If one had gestational diabetes, one can stop all treatment after the delivery. Mothers should be offered a test to check the blood glucose levels before being discharged and also during the six-week postnatal check. Also, the requirement of insulin for the body goes down, especially in the case of Type 2 diabetes.