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For most woman pregnancy can be a very beautiful and exciting time. The miracle of creating a brand new human and dreaming of the day you get to hold your little bundle of joy is enough to make most soon-to-be-moms swoon. Unfortunately, some women have a different time altogether. They have the added stress of worrying if their diabetes is harming their unborn child.
Diabetes can be tricky, and at times it might be hard to manage, but when you're pregnant, the hormonal changes can make controlling those numbers downright impossible without added help. Every pregnancy is different, and the same can be said of people with diabetes. If you are a type 1 or type 2 diabetic and you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, we have some advice to make things easier.
Talk to Your Doctor
Call your doctor immediately after finding out you’re pregnant. If you are planning to start a family in the near future, make an appointment so that you can be as prepared as possible for a safe pregnancy. Your doctor will need to run tests, and they will be better able to assess how your body will handle all the changes that are about to take place. They will be able to tell you what prenatal vitamin to take and whether you need to change your medication. If you are on insulin, you will need more or less depending on how your body reacts to increased hormones. Insulin does not cross the placenta, so you don’t have to worry about adverse reactions for your baby.
If you are taking pills to manage your diabetes prior to pregnancy be sure to talk with your doctor as soon as possible. You may need to switch over to insulin while you are pregnant and possibly while breastfeeding. Many medications cross through the placenta and may be dangerous for a developing fetus. Your doctor is the only one that should be making the decision to stop or change your medication. Do not stop taking a medication without talking to your doctor first.
You might have another human growing inside you, but you do not need to eat twice as much. Throughout your pregnancy, your baby will only need about 200-300 extra calories a day. How many more calories you need to eat is determined on how much you weighed before becoming pregnant. If you start out at a healthy BMI, you will be expected to gain about 25-35 pounds by the time you give birth. If you start out underweight, you will be monitored and expected to gain 25-35 pounds plus any weight needed to get you up to a healthy BMI. For example, if you are 10 pounds below a healthy weight you should gain 35-45 pounds by the time baby comes. If you are overweight or obese, you will need to gain the least amount of weight somewhere between 15-25 pounds.
Be sure to choose your foods wisely. For diabetics choosing the right foods are important. You are going to go through times when you are hungry and times when the thought of food makes you sprint for the nearest trashcan. Choose the most nutrient dense foods you can stomach through your pregnancy to ensure that your baby is getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals. If meat makes you sick in the first trimester, then experiment with different tofu recipes. Protein is essential so find something you can keep down. The goal is to eat enough fat, carbohydrates, and protein throughout the day. Often going to long without eating can make you queasy so try to space out your meals and snacks to curb nausea as much as possible.
If you already have an exercise routine, you should talk to your doctor about any changes that need to be made. However, most doctors now agree that continuing what you are used to is fine. If you do not exercise regularly now is not the time to start training for a marathon, but you could look into prenatal classes at the gym or your local YMCA. Yoga is very popular while pregnant because the gentle stretching helps relieve aches and pains associated with pregnancy. Between your growing belly, the realigning of your hips and pelvis, and muscle cramps you will be happy to find relief during a prenatal yoga class.
I cannot stress this enough but test your blood sugar often. Pregnancy can wreak havoc on your glucose levels, and you may not even know it’s happening. When you are pregnant, you may not have any of your normal low or high symptoms. The best way to know what your blood sugar is is to test your blood sugar. If you have a sensor, you still need to check using a monitor, and you'll need to calibrate your sensor to make sure you get the most accurate numbers. If you do not have a sensor, now might be a good time to try them. They have come a long way in the last few years, and they can help keep your blood sugar within the target range set by your healthcare team.
The most important thing you can do aside from managing your blood glucose is to try and relax. You are going to have extra tests and a lot more check-ups, but that is just to ensure that any potential problems are caught sooner rather than later. It can be extra stressful, but try and remember that at the end you will get to hold your sweet baby and know it was all worth it. If you need to go on bed rest or call out from work, do it without feeling guilty. Just give your body and your baby everything it needs right now so it can be healthy for what is about to come.
By the way, I spent the majority of both my pregnancies on best rest. It was hard, but I made it. I have two awesome kiddos, and I look back on those difficult pregnancies with pride in myself. I got through it and so can you.
Comment below with questions. If you have advice for soon-to-be-moms, let us know. If you are stuck on best rest and need tips to stay busy, we have a few to share.