Although this undertaking needs to be planned and carefully monitored from beginning to end, it CAN BE DONE.
Women who have diabetes definitely have the ability to keep both themselves and their baby safe, without it becoming risky. Here are some tips to begin your incredible journey into motherhood.
- 1 Visit a Physician
- 2 Keep your Blood Sugar Level Under Control
- 3 Schedule a Pre-Conception Counseling
Visit a Physician
The first thing you want to do before anything else is go to your physician. This is a very important step for anyone trying to conceive, however, for someone with diabetes, it is absolutely imperative. This should be done approximately 3 to 6 months before you want to start trying to become pregnant. Your doctor will do several things in order to see if you are in good shape to begin, these include:
- Taking your blood pressure
- Order an A1C test to determine whether or not your diabetes is controlled to the point where you can stop taking whatever form of birth control you may be using
- Rule out the chance that you may have a thyroid disease (though this is usually done only if you have type 1 diabetes)
- Test both your urine and blood for kidney complications that may be specifically related to diabetes
- Make a recommendation to have pre-conception counseling before continuing any further
- Check your triglyceride levels and cholesterol
- A possible change in your medication may be in order. If you take oral medication for instance, you may need to switch to insulin, or be taken off of some other type of drug
- Make certain that you have no other diabetes-related type problems, for example:
- Organ damage
- Nerve damage
- Heart damage
- Make the suggestion that you go to see an ophthalmologist in order to check for things such as:
Keep your Blood Sugar Level Under Control
The next step you need to take is to make sure that your blood sugar is kept well under control, and that you maintain a healthy diet throughout, as this is one of the best ways to avoid having diabetic complications both before conception and after. Obviously part of the reason for this is due to keeping you, the soon-to-be mother, in good health, but it is also for your unborn child as well. The most important reasons for keeping your blood sugar under control in the earliest days of your pregnancy involve the risk of miscarriage and the possibility of birth defects to your unborn child which could involve many areas but especially the brain, heart and spinal cord.
Some of the best ways to do this may involve increasing the amount of insulin that you are currently taking or even considering the option of using an insulin pump instead, in order to help boost and improve your chances of keeping your blood sugar under control. Another good way is to eat a healthy diet. This will include things such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits, however, there are 6 things in particular that can also assist with keeping your blood sugar in check, and they include:
But don’t buy the sweetened kind as this will have the opposite effect. It is high in soluble fiber, so even though it is a carbohydrate, it’s one of the good ones. And because it is high in fiber, it therefore will not raise your blood sugar as much or as fast, and will take a longer period of time to digest.
These particular fruits are low in both carbohydrates and calories, but at the same time are high in water and fiber, making you feel fuller for longer.
Surprisingly, this spice has actually been making news as something that may be able to assist in the reduction of blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, by having a somewhat insulin type of effect. This was actually discovered in a study in Germany that contained two separate groups of people with Type 2 diabetes. One group took a placebo while the other group actually took cinnamon extract three times per day. By the end of the 4 month study, those who had taken the extract had lowered their fasting blood sugar levels by a surprising 10.3%, as compared to only 3.4% for the group taking the placebos. There needs to be more studies done before doctors can officially recommend this as a way to reduce blood sugar, however, using a little extra now and then certainly can’t do any harm.
These sugar-free drinks have no calories and no carbohydrates, which can help with both weight loss as well as blood sugar levels. They are available in many different flavors and can be helpful if you are trying to stop drinking sugary or bubbly drinks.
A Variety of Nonstarchy Vegetables
Some of the best choices would be green beans, broccoli and spinach for example. These vegetables are low in carbohydrates but high in fiber, unlike some other far more starchy vegetables.
Lean Cuts of Meat
Some of the best options in this case would be things such as chicken with no skin and different types of fish, especially salmon. Salmon is a good choice because it contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and it is a well proven fact that more than 65% of people who have diabetes die from either a stroke or heart attack, making these fatty acids all the more important. Something else that also comes from meat and is very important to diabetic people in particular, is something called chromium. Chromium is actually a mineral that helps the body to both metabolize carbohydrates, as well as allow insulin to work properly.
Schedule a Pre-Conception Counseling
The next very important step you want to be assured of taking is to go to pre-conception counseling. Though you may be uncertain of just what exactly pre-conception counseling is, here is a generalized description. At this session, you and your physician will discuss many things, for instance:
Someone who has diabetes needs to get as close to their ideal weight before becoming pregnant as possible. And this works both ways, as being somewhat overweight can cause varied complications during the pregnancy and being underweight can have a particularly specific problem at the end of the pregnancy, and that is the chance of having a low-birth-weight infant. So, either way that you may be having a problem should be remedied as quickly and healthily as possible.
Somewhere between 1 and 3 months of trying to conceive, it is very important to begin taking a daily vitamin that contains folic acid. This is an important step to take as it has been proven that doing so lowers the risk of having an infant that has a neural tube defect such as spina-bifida. The Center for Disease Control gives the recommendation of taking 400 micrograms each day, both before becoming pregnant, as well as afterward and throughout the entire pregnancy.
Your physician will want to discuss this subject with you in detail, to determine if any changes need to be made. Telling your doctor every single medication that you are taking, even if it seems like nothing or is over the counter, an herb, etc. is incredibly important and could have an effect that you may not have previously considered.
There are many things to be considered and discussed, but some of the most important would be your intake of alcohol and whether or not you smoke cigarettes. Some of the dangers associated with alcohol can include:
- A variety of physical problems
- Mental retardation as well as the possibility of other birth defects
Some of the effects associated with nicotine may include the following things, as carbon monoxide (the incredibly addictive substance that is found in cigarettes) goes through your bloodstream and heads straight to your unborn child. These effects can include:
- Increasing the chance of not only miscarriage, but also stillbirth
- Give the baby the possibility of being likely to have future problems with the lungs or its breathing
- Raising the baby’s heart rate
- Can deprive both you and your child of oxygen
- Increase the chances of having a low-birth-weight as well as premature child
First, your doctor will need to give you permission to exercise, and though this is almost always a recommended part of your diabetic plan, it is especially important during pregnancy. Next, you need to choose activities that will not put too much of a strain on your body, but is also something that you enjoy doing. As a general guideline, the Department of Health and Human Services usually recommends that you aim for around 150 hours of some type or types of moderate aerobic activity each week during pregnancy. If you haven’t really worked out before, or have not done so in a while, start slowly and make a gradual climb up to where you should be.
It is also very important to remember that physical activity of any kind will affect your blood sugar, making it more important than ever to check your levels both before you exercise, as well as after. This is especially true if you take insulin, and may necessitate having some type of small snack before you begin exercising, to avoid getting low blood sugar.
One important note: If you are using an insulin pump, there is a possibility that the basal rate may need to be adjusted for any type of exercise.
Managing stress will be another important step during both pre-conception and pregnancy. Now, it is true that most women get anxious at one time or another during this incredibly important period of their lives. However, for women who are also afflicted with additional problems, in this case, diabetes, stress can cause one specific problem that many women do not usually have to be concerned with. And that problem is interference with your blood sugar level, something that you most certainly do not need.
Here are a few tips that may help you manage your stress levels during pregnancy. They include:
- Prepare for What Your Life as a Family is going to be Like: Obviously there are many, many things that you and your partner will need and want to learn on your own. But there is also a great deal of information to be gotten from other sources. For instance, other family members, friends who have of their own, books, seminars and more.
- Learning to Talk About Issues that Concern You: Things that may be putting stress on you or giving you more than your share of worrying should be addressed as soon as possible. There are many people that you can talk to about your problems, starting with your partner. You may not realize that some of the exact things keeping you up at night is also concerning them. Talk to family members that you may be close to, your midwife or doctor, or even a forum on a baby specific site. The important thing is to not be afraid of expressing your fears and concerns, but to talk about them.
- Be Certain to Rest and Focus on Your Baby: One of the best things that you can do to keep your levels of stress under control is to make certain that you get an adequate amount of rest. Sometimes this may even involve a short nap during the day, or even just laying down with your eyes closed and no sound. Also, take the time to talk to your baby throughout the day, rub your stomach and even sing to your unborn child. After all, once you hit approximately 23 weeks, your baby will be able to hear you. If you feel tired, take a break, go to bed early, do whatever you need to in order to relax your mind and body.
- Deal with Any Issues that May Involve Commuting: Not every expectant mother has this issue, but for the ones that do, it can really become a pressure that should not have to be as hard to deal with as usual. The beginning of your pregnancy usually does not create many problems in this area, but the further along that you get, the worse it can become. Rush hours can be a particularly difficult issue, though with the help of your employer, the stress from this situation can be reduced. Ask your boss if it would be possible for you to perhaps start earlier, thereby being able to finish earlier, avoiding some of the rush hour traffic. This can actually be done as a part of the risk assessment, and reviewed when necessary during your entire pregnancy, that your employer is required by law to carry out.
Also, things such as sitting down when you are riding on some form of public transportation. If there are no seats available, ask for one. Sometimes people just aren’t paying attention and don’t realize the predicament you are in.
- Take the Time to Treat Yourself: Laughter really is one of the most relaxing ways to reduce stress.
Take the time to watch a funny movie, go out with friends or just look at some jokes online. Or take the time to have a special day with your female friends and go to a spa, have a manicure/pedicure, or just go to lunch and relax.
Remember, diabetes can definitely make both getting pregnant and staying pregnant a challenge. But in the end it will be worth all the time, trouble and difficulties that you may have to encounter and go through.