How to Have a Healthy Pregnancy When You’re Diabetic

Mother’s Day isn’t just a celebration of moms and their children. It’s also a time to celebrate expectant moms and promote healthy pregnancy.

In particular, being pregnant when you also have diabetes can increase your chance of having complications for both you and your child during and after labor.

“The key to staying healthy and having a healthy baby when you’re diabetic is keeping your blood sugar as close to normal before and during pregnancy,” said Dr. Whitney Lyn, a family medicine physician at Cook County Health’s Provident Hospital.

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose or blood sugar is too high.

“High blood sugar can harm your baby during the first few weeks of pregnancy, especially their brain, heart kidneys and lungs,” said Dr. Lyn. “So to make sure high blood sugar levels don’t lead to your baby being born with birth defects, it’s extremely important to maintain normal levels during pregnancy.”

High blood glucose can also increase the chance that you will have a miscarriage or a stillbirth.

Being pregnant can have health risks for the mom as well. Pregnancy can worsen certain long-term diabetes complications, such as kidney disease and eye problems.

For these reasons, women with diabetes who are considering getting pregnant should see their primary care doctor to make a plan to manage their diabetes.

“The reason this is so critical is that the target range for your blood sugar during pregnancy may be different than what it’s been when you aren’t pregnant,” Dr. Lyn noted. “And if you have diabetes and are already pregnant, you should see a doctor as soon as possible to make sure your diabetes is managed properly.”

Non-diabetic women can also be at risk for developing the disease during pregnancy. This is known as gestational diabetes.

“If you are found to have diabetes or already know you do, you should work with your health care team to develop a diabetes management plan that can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby,” Dr. Lyn said.

To make an appointment with a primary doctor or an OB/GYN, please contact CCH’ Patient Support Center at 312-864-0200. CCH’ John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital also has a free diabetic education class for women who are pregnant called the “Center of My Joy.”  For more information about the class or to register, call 312-864-0301.