Diabetes is a manageable condition, but what does this mean for women who are pregnant? Will having diabetes affect your child?
The Centre for Diabetes and Endocrinology (CDE) helps us break down some things you need to know about diabetes and pregnancy.
There are three common types of diabetes seen in the context of pregnancy
Pregnancy and a healthy outcome is possible with diabetes, but knowing that there are different types of diabetes is crucial to you receiving the right treatment. The first two types are usually present before pregnancy:
Type 1 diabetes:
Is when the pancreas is unable to make the hormone (chemical messenger) insulin, to regulate blood glucose levels in a healthy range. Insulin acts like a key to let glucose pass from the bloodstream into the muscle, fat and liver cells of the body, to produce energy, or to be stored for later use.
Although people of any age can develop and have the condition, type 1 diabetes usually develops in children or young adults. Treatment requires ‘hormone replacement therapy’ of two to four or more insulin injections daily for life, to replace the missing insulin and control blood glucose levels. People with type 1 diabetes are otherwise healthy if blood glucose levels are well managed.
Type 2 diabetes:
Usually develops from the collision of a genetic predisposition and unhealthy lifestyle choices. Type 2 diabetes is a complex and progressive disorder in which a relative lack of insulin occurs together with resistance to its action. Type 2 diabetes has a strong correlation with the ‘Westernized lifestyle’ which is associated with a lack of exercise, poor eating habits and weight gain (particularly around the tummy region).
This way of living may result in the development of insulin resistance and eventually, diabetes. Treatment always begins with lifestyle change (getting active, healthy eating and loss of tummy fat) as a priority, to which a variety of oral (tablet) and injectable (including insulin) therapies may also be added, over time. The treatment required will depend on the rate of decline of the insulin producing cells of the pancreas.
is a form of diabetes first diagnosed during pregnancy. It develops in one in 7 pregnancies worldwide and is associated with potential complications to both mother and baby. Although GDM usually disappears after pregnancy, women with GDM and their children, are at an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Approximately half of women with a history of GDM go on to develop type 2 diabetes within five to ten years after delivery. The good news is that successful lifestyle management resulting in a dramatic loss of tummy fat and increased insulin sensitivity can prevent or delay this progression significantly.
Diabetes can show up in the middle a pregnancy
Doctors usually test for any signs of expectant mothers having gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks, which can lead to many women finding out in the middle of their pregnancy.
Therefore, it is crucial to stick to regular check-ups to receive the necessary screening and, if needed, treatment that can prevent any complications. The CDE offers a range of services that can help tailor a diet that is suitable for you and offer health care education on how you can live a healthy life for you and your baby. Having cover such as MiLittleLife offers the financial protection you and your baby may face from complications in your pregnancy.
Uncontrolled type 1, type 2 or gestational diabetes can affect your baby’s blood glucose
If your diabetes is not controlled, it can affect your baby. Uncontrolled diabetes can result in your baby's blood glucose levels being high, which can result in your child being overfed and growing extra-large.
Not only can this be uncomfortable for expectant mothers during the final trimester, it can also lead to severe birth injuries to both mother and baby and to hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose) in the baby after birth.
Sticking to healthy food choices and controlled portion sizes prescribed by a dietician is vital. And, ensuring that you get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day along with the regular intake of insulin or other medication that has been prescribed by your doctor will give you and your baby the best chance of a happy and healthy outcome.