Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes and pregnancy
Problems of diabetes in pregnancy
Blood sugar that is not well controlled in a pregnant woman with type 1 or type 2 diabetes could lead to problems for the woman and the baby:
The organs of the baby form during the first two months of pregnancy, often before a woman knows that she is pregnant. Blood sugar that is not in control can affect those organs while they are being formed and cause serious birth defects in the developing baby, such as those of the brain, spine, and heart.
An extra large baby
Diabetes that is not well controlled causes the baby’s blood sugar to be high. The baby is “overfed” and grows extra large. Besides causing discomfort to the woman during the last few months of pregnancy, an extra large baby can lead to problems during delivery for both the mother and the baby. The mother might need a C-section to deliver the baby. The baby can be born with nerve damage due to pressure on the shoulder during delivery.
C-section (Cesarean Section)
A C-section is a surgery to deliver the baby through the mother’s belly. A woman who has diabetes that is not well controlled has a higher chance of needing a C-section to deliver the baby. When the baby is delivered by a C-section, it takes longer for the woman to recover from childbirth.
High blood pressure (Preeclampsia)
When a pregnant woman has high blood pressure, protein in her urine, and often swelling in fingers and toes that doesn’t go away, she might have preeclampsia. It is a serious problem that needs to be watched closely and managed by her doctor. High blood pressure can cause harm to both the woman and her unborn baby. It might lead to the baby being born early and also could cause seizures or a stroke (a blood clot or a bleed in the brain that can lead to brain damage) in the woman during labor and delivery. Women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes have high blood pressure more often than women without diabetes.
Early (Preterm) birth
Being born too early can result in problems for the baby, such as breathing problems, heart problems, bleeding into the brain, intestinal problems, and vision problems. Women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are more likely to deliver early than women without diabetes.
Low blood sugar (Hypoglycemia)
People with diabetes who take insulin or other diabetes medications can develop blood sugar that is too low. Low blood sugar can be very serious, and even fatal, if not treated quickly. Seriously low blood sugar can be avoided if women watch their blood sugar closely and treat low blood sugar early.
If a woman’s diabetes was not well controlled during pregnancy, her baby can very quickly develop low blood sugar after birth. The baby’s blood sugar must be watched for several hours after delivery.
Miscarriage or stillbirth
A miscarriage is a loss of the pregnancy before 20 weeks. Stillbirth means that after 20 weeks, the baby dies in the womb. Miscarriages and stillbirths can happen for many reasons. A woman who has diabetes that is not well controlled has a higher chance of having a miscarriage or stillbirth.
Image: Flickr Creativecommons Liz