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Diabetes and Pregnancy

How Diabetes and Pregnancy May Affect Baby

A common problem among the babies of pregnant women with diabetes is a condition called "macrosomia," which means "large body." In other words, babies of diabetic women are apt to be considerably larger than others.

This occurs because many of these babies receive too much sugar via the placenta, because their mothers have high blood sugar levels. The baby's pancreas senses the high sugar levels and it produces more insulin in an attempt to use up all the extra sugar. That extra sugar is converted to fat, making a large baby.

Sometimes, the baby becomes too large to be delivered vaginally, and a cesarean delivery becomes necessary. Your doctor will closely monitor your baby's size and plan for the safest mode of delivery.

If you have high blood sugar levels consistently during pregnancy (especially in the 24 hours before delivery), your baby may develop dangerously low blood sugars right after delivery. This is because the baby has high levels of insulin to use up the extra sugars, and when that that source of sugar is suddenly taken away, his or her blood sugar levels drop quickly. Thus, many hospitals monitor babies of mothers with diabetes in the nursery for several hours after birth. If your baby's blood sugar levels are low, the baby will be given glucose intravenously. Your baby may also have imbalances in calcium and magnesium levels, which can be replaced with medication.

Use of Diabetes Drugs During Pregnancy

If you take insulin to control your diabetes, your health care provider can tell you how to adjust your medication. Generally, your body will require more insulin during pregnancy, especially during the last three months.

If you take oral medications to control your diabetes, your health care provider may switch your medication to insulin during pregnancy, because the safety of using certain oral medications may not be known and/or better sugar control may be achieved with insulin.

Diabetes and Pregnancy Diet

During pregnancy, you and your health care provider should work together to adjust your diet. Changing your diabetes diet will help you avoid problems with low and high blood sugar levels. Your meal plan will also be adjusted to include more calories for your growing baby.

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