Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

decision pointI have diabetes. Should I get pregnant now?

You may want to have a say in this decision, or you may simply want to follow your doctor’s advice. Either way, this information will help you understand what your choices are so that you can talk to your doctor about them.

Here are some things to consider if you have diabetes and are thinking about getting pregnant:

  • Is your blood sugar in a normal or near-normal range? Women with diabetes who want to get pregnant should have blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible before they get pregnant. This lowers the chance of birth defects, miscarriage, and other problems. Check your blood sugar throughout the day to see if it is in a near-normal range. If not, consider using birth control until your blood sugar is in that range.
  • Do you take pills to treat diabetes? Your doctor may have you switch to insulin or take a different pill before you get pregnant. If you are changing to insulin or a new pill, make sure that the medicine is controlling your blood sugar before you try to get pregnant.
  • Do you take insulin? Talk to your doctor before you try to get pregnant to see if you need to change your dose or how you take it (such as through an insulin pump or as shots). If you figure out the right dose of insulin to take before you get pregnant, you are less likely to have problems with high and low blood sugar during your pregnancy.
  • Do you take medicine to treat other problems? Talk to your doctor before you get pregnant to see if you need to stop or change your medicine.
  • Do you have complications from diabetes, such as eye or kidney disease? If you do, being pregnant can make some of these problems worse. Also, high blood pressure can create problems for you and affect your baby's growth during pregnancy.
  • Do you have other children? If so, how did the diabetes affect your pregnancy?
  • Do you take a folic acid supplement? Taking a daily multivitamin or prenatal vitamin with folic acid reduces the chance of having a baby with a birth defect.

What should you do before you get pregnant when you have diabetes?

You can have a healthy pregnancy if your blood sugar is in a normal or near-normal range before you get pregnant and you don't have high blood pressure or problems from diabetes, such as kidney disease. Keeping your blood sugar at a normal level lowers your risk of birth defects, miscarriage, and other problems. Experts recommend keeping blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible-called tight control-for 3 to 6 months before you get pregnant. To do this, get plenty of exercise, eat healthy foods, lose weight if you need to, and take medicine if your doctor prescribes it.

For more information, see:

Planning for pregnancy when you have diabetes

What should you talk to your doctor about?

Medicines

It's important to let your doctor know if you are thinking about getting pregnant. If you take pills to treat your diabetes, your doctor may want to switch you to insulin or to a new pill before you get pregnant. And if you take insulin, your doctor may need to change the dose or how you take it, such as through an insulin pump or as shots. You also need to let your doctor know about any medicine you take to treat other health problems. He or she may have you stop or change your medicine before you get pregnant if you are taking any medicines that could harm your baby.

Screening

When you have diabetes, you need to see your doctor regularly to check for problems from the disease. It's especially important to do this before you get pregnant. Screening tests include:

  • An eye exam to look for signs of retinopathy.
  • Blood and urine tests to look for kidney damage.
  • Blood pressure checks. High blood pressure can cause problems with the mother and the baby. When blood pressure is very high, the placenta may not work well and the doctor may need to deliver the baby early.
  • Blood sugar level tests. Your doctor will talk to you about keeping your blood sugar in a normal or near-normal range at all times before and during your pregnancy.

What are the risks from getting pregnant when your diabetes is not controlled?

Uncontrolled diabetes increases the risk of problems for both the baby and the mother.

Risks for the baby include:

  • Birth defects.
  • Early (premature) birth.
  • Jaundice.
  • Low blood sugar.
  • Larger-than-normal size at birth, which can cause shoulder and other problems in the infant.
  • Smaller-than-normal size at birth caused by high blood pressure, kidney disease, or problems with the placenta.
  • Death, although this is not common now that more women use insulin to control their blood sugar.

Risks for the mother include:

  • Miscarriage.
  • Kidney damage if creatinine levels are above 2.0 mg/dL.
  • High blood pressure during pregnancy.
  • Eye problems during pregnancy that may get better after the baby is born.

For more information, see the topics:

  • Type 2 Diabetes: Living With the Disease
  • Type 1 Diabetes: Living With the Disease

Your choices are:

  • Try to get pregnant now.
  • Don't try to get pregnant now.

The decision whether to try to get pregnant when you have diabetes takes into account your personal feelings and the medical facts.

Deciding about pregnancy when you have diabetes

Reasons to try to get pregnant now

Reasons to not try to get pregnant now

  • Your blood sugar is in a near-normal range and has been for at least 3 months.
  • You have talked to your doctor about what medicines are safe to use when you are trying to get pregnant.
  • You have checked with your doctor, and you don't have any complications from diabetes.
  • You have had another pregnancy, and you and your baby had no problems related to your diabetes, and you kept your blood sugar under control during the pregnancy.

Are there other reasons you might want to try to get pregnant now?

  • Your blood sugar is not in a near-normal range.
  • You haven't talked to your doctor about what medicines are safe to use when you are trying to get pregnant.
  • You have complications from diabetes, and being pregnant may make these problems worse.

Are there other reasons you might not want to get pregnant now?

These personal stories may help you make your decision.

Use this worksheet to help you make your decision. After completing it, you should have a better idea of how you feel about trying to get pregnant now. Discuss the worksheet with your doctor.

Circle the answer that best applies to you.

My blood sugar is under control. Yes No Unsure
I have complications from diabetes. Yes No Unsure
I have talked to my doctor about what medicines are safe to take. Yes No NA*
In past pregnancies, I was able to keep my blood sugar under control. Yes No Unsure
I am worried that my diabetes may cause health problems for my baby. Yes No Unsure
I want to try to get pregnant now. I don't want to wait. Yes No Unsure
I want to wait until my doctor says it is safe before I try to get pregnant. Yes No Unsure
I want to get my blood sugar levels under control before I try to get pregnant. Yes No Unsure

*NA=Not applicable

Use the following space to list any other important concerns you have about this decision.

 

 

 

 

 

What is your overall impression?

Your answers in the above worksheet are meant to give you a general idea of where you stand on this decision. You may have one overriding reason to try or not try to get pregnant now.

Check the box below that represents your overall impression about your decision.

Leaning toward trying to get pregnant now

 

Leaning toward NOT trying to get pregnant now

         
  • Type 1 Diabetes: Living With the Disease
  • Type 2 Diabetes: Living With the Disease
Author Merrill Hayden
Editor Marianne Flagg
Associate Editor Michele Cronen
Primary Medical Reviewer Caroline S. Rhoads, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Updated July 22, 2009

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 22, 2009
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 and 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.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Woman holding cake
Slideshow
feet
Slideshow
 
man organizing pills
Slideshow
Close up of eye
Slideshow
 

Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections