It is very important to see your doctor for advice if you have diabetes and want to have children. Try to avoid unplanned pregnancy if you can. Making sure your diabetes is very well controlled before pregnancy is very important to help you have a healthy baby. Sometimes women who have not had diabetes need treatment for diabetes during pregnancy. This is called gestational diabetes.
Many women experience mood swings during pregnancy, but for women with pre-existing diabetes, those nine months are also packed with fluctuating glucose levels. Given below are some guidelines for your meal plan during pregnancy:
- Carbohydrate – inadequate carbohydrate intake can result in low blood sugar, and elevated blood sugar levels if there is excessive carbohydrate intake. Make sure your meal contains complex carbohydrate, especially foods high in fibre, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and milk. Foods with a high content of refined sugars and sweets should be limited. Refined starches should be limited too.
- Protein: If your kidney function is impaired, the doctor may lower your protein allowance.
- Fat: Monosaturated fats and omega-3 fats, rather than saturated fats, should continue to be the primary source of fat in your diet.
- Fibre: Fibre can help stabilize your blood sugar levels and relieve constipation. It is necessary to get enough fibre each day.
- Vitamins and minerals: The doctor will advise you to take prenatal vitamins with folic acid and iron to meet your body’s increased need for these nutrients. Folic acid is needed for the production of blood cells and iron for red blood cells to deliver oxygen throughout your body.
- Artificial sweeteners: Are safe during pregnancy.
- Caffeine: It is best to avoid caffeine.
- Alcohol: Consumption of alcohol is a strict no-no during pregnancy.
- Herbs: some herbs may cause premature labour and others may cause high or low blood sugar levels. It is best to consult the doctor if you are taking any herbs.
You must keep your weight and blood sugar down by exercising. Most pregnant women can safely work out with a doctor’s go-ahead. Avoid high-impact exercises like kick-boxing or contact sports and activities that require you to lie on your back. Swimming and walking is fine to continue through pregnancy. Prenatal yoga classes can help strengthen muscles. Whatever you choose, take plenty of breaks, stay hydrated and stop if you feel pain or discomfort.
Light or moderate resistance exercises like walking, stationary cycle, swimming and light jogging can be done by the mother who is diabetic. Exercises are better done on most if not all, days of the week. Maternal exercise during pregnancy does not increase the risk of low birth weight, preterm delivery or early pregnancy loss. On, the contrary, regular exercise reduces the risk of pregnancy complications like preeclampsia, and also shortens the duration of active labour.
During pregnancy, you will need to review your blood glucose on a regular basis with your doctor. All pregnant women get an ultrasound around week 18 to monitor the baby’s development; women with diabetes usually get additional ultrasound scans at other times in pregnancy.
Many pregnant women, without pre-existing diabetes, may develop gestational diabetes sometime around the 28-week mark. While the cause is not yet understood, gestational diabetes occurs when the mother’s body becomes resistant to insulin, causing glucose levels to build up in the blood. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after pregnancy, but there is a high risk of it returning or recurrence in a future pregnancy. Women who have had gestational diabetes are also at increased risk of developing diabetes in the future.