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Women’s Top Diabetes Concerns

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WebMD Feature

Managing type 2 diabetes means being good to yourself.

“Diabetes requires self-care to do it well,” says Robin Goland, MD, diabetes research director at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. “While many women are comfortable at taking care of others, it can be hard for them to take care of themselves.”

Your first line of defense is a healthy diet and exercise plan, so talk to your doctor about creating one that will likely include:

  • Getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days. Anything that gets your heart rate up and causes you to sweat a little is beneficial, even if it’s gardening, walking, or cleaning your house.
  • Eating foods that will keep your blood sugar levels in check. That means choosing high-fiber foods, swapping out white starchy foods for whole grains, putting lots of vegetables on your plate, and steering clear of sweetened beverages, including fruit juice.

Ask your doctor who else can help you, like a nutritionist or a diabetes specialist.

Protect Your Heart

Having diabetes makes heart disease more likely. That's all the more reason to follow your doctor's guidelines about diet and exercise.

Also, track your blood pressure, says OB/GYN and diabetes educator Cassandra Henderson, MD, of New York’s Lincoln Hospital and Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Keeping your cholesterol levels in check will also help protect your heart.

If You're Planning to Get Pregnant

Many women now have type 2 diabetes during their childbearing years. A healthy pregnancy is certainly possible with diabetes, but it takes extra care.

If you plan to get pregnant with type 2 diabetes, see your doctor first. You need a plan to keep your blood sugar level under control -- and during pregnancy the goals for blood sugars are very different.

Your doctor should check on your diabetes drugs, because some shouldn't be taken during pregnancy. As a result, you may need to take insulin.

When you’re pregnant, you may also need to check your blood sugar more frequently -- up to eight times daily -- to flag any blood sugar level spikes. And, of course, a healthy diet and exercise are a must to help control blood sugar.

Once you have your baby, you can breastfeed, if you choose to. Nursing helps your baby get to a healthy weight, and it also helps get your blood sugar and insulin levels under control.

After your pregnancy, your blood sugar control will change. You may need less insulin or a change in your diabetes drugs or doses. Talk about it with your OB/GYN, as well as the doctor you see for diabetes care.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

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Normal
70-130
High
131+

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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