Pregnancy can be a roller-coaster ride requiring more care, especially with Type 1 diabetes. About 3.1% of pregnant Canadian women have Type 1 diabetes. The hormone insulin helps the body’s cells to use glucose from the food you eat. In the absence of insulin, the body cells cannot use glucose and its level increases in blood. If the levels are not managed, especially during pregnancy, it may cause complications, such as congenital abnormalities in the baby or miscarriage. The great news is, with diligent self-care, including dietary modifications, and medical guidance, the chances of a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby are as good as any other expectant woman.

Getting Pregnant with Type 1 Diabetes

Taking care of health is vital during pregnancy, and with existing Type 1 diabetes, it is even more crucial. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels may increase the risk of complications during pregnancy. If possible, plan before getting pregnant and take help of your care provider. They will help you determine the target range for blood glucose levels.

Improving diet, exercising, and maintaining a healthy body weight improves your overall health and reduces complications during pregnancy. The doctor will also assess the risk of complications and review all the medications for their safety during pregnancy.

Before getting pregnant, taking the following precautions may help:

  • Achieve normal blood sugar levels
  • Get your kidneys and eyes checked
  • Visit the doctor regularly
  • Take a prenatal vitamin and folic supplement
  • Take insulin diligently

Type 1 Diabetes and Pregnancy Symptoms

Symptoms are not present in most of the cases, but when present, they can be:

  • Excessive urge to pass urine
  • Increased thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Leg cramps
  • Mood swings
  • Constant hunger
  • Skin infections
  • Headaches
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Type 1 Diabetes and Pregnancy Risks and Outcomes

Blood sugar that is not controlled in a pregnant woman with Type 1 diabetes could cause various complications. For instance, high blood sugar levels of the mother increase the baby’s sugar level as well. The baby is thus overfed and overgrows, causing discomfort during delivery. The baby’s shoulder may get stuck, resulting in nerve damage because of pressure.

Some other risks include:

Risks for the Mother

  • Preeclampsia (High blood pressure with protein in urine)
  •  Cesarean section
  •  Difficult delivery or labor
  • Infections of the vagina and urinary bladder

Risks for the Baby

  • Congenital disabilities
  • An extra-large baby (Macrosomia)
  • Low blood glucose levels at birth
  • Premature delivery
  •  Breathing difficulty
  • Prolonged jaundice

Type 1 Diabetes and Pregnancy Guidelines

The doctor will assess the effect of diabetes on your body and curate suitable guidelines. If you are overweight, the doctor may recommend diet and tips that will help you lose weight.

Type 1 Diabetes and Pregnancy Diet

All the general rules of a good and healthy diet also apply to pregnancy with Type 1 diabetes. Include a blend of fruits, vegetables, whole grain, lean meats, and low-fat dairy to get all the essential nutrients. Besides, the food you consume should also help to manage sugar levels throughout the day. An excellent way to do is to include three snacks and three meals. Every meal should include at least one serving of both carbohydrate and protein.

Healthy proteins include:

  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Tofu
  • Beans
  • Fish
  • Nuts

Healthy carbs include:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Brown rice
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Lentils

Besides, fibre also helps in managing glucose levels.

Things to avoid:

  • Raw seafood or high-mercury fish
  • Unpasteurized milk products
  • More than 200 milligrams of caffeine consumption in a day
  • Intake of artificial sweeteners

Type 1 Diabetes and Pregnancy Exercise

Exercise is one more way of managing weight and sugar levels during pregnancy. However, strenuous activities may lower blood glucose levels, altering your insulin needs, and it is thus essential to consult a doctor before exercising. Generally, you can do the following exercises:

  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Cycling
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Type 1 Diabetes and Pregnancy Treatment

Women with pre-existing Type 1 diabetes would already be on insulin. However, changes during pregnancy fluctuate sugar levels and thus alters insulin requirement. During the initial months of pregnancy, the body uses glucose more effectively as compared to the pre-pregnancy state, thus requiring less insulin. As pregnancy advances, the placenta provides nutrition to the baby, which alters the effect of insulin, needing more insulin. The doctor will work with you to decide the best suitable dose for you. It will also involve regular monitoring of sugar levels and adjust insulin dose accordingly.

If you have Type 1 diabetes and planning to get pregnant, it is essential to get blood glucose levels in check. During pregnancy, visit your doctor as advised and follow all the precautions for safe and healthy delivery. Your health care provider will figure out the best suitable routine for a positive and healthy pregnancy. Work closely with your doctor to avoid complications during pregnancy.

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