Health and Fitness

How diabetes affects your fertility and pregnancy

Have you been trying to get pregnant but are not being able to for some reason? Have you been able to a find a reason for your infertility? Most women in such a situation try out fertility cleansing; start a fertility diet; take up herbs or supplements, but may not really guarantee success in conceiving. This is because there are a lot of factors that can affect your fertility, which you may or may not really know. So, if you’re having trouble conceiving, it may be time to get a blood test and check if your sugar levels are fine or not. Type II Diabetes rates are rising every year and many infertility specialists are exploring this disease to be a main cause of infertility cases that have been otherwise unexplained.

Women, who are looking to get pregnant but have diabetes, can have special health concerns in such a situation. This is because they are already anticipating some added demands that a pregnancy will put on their body, and it may also affect their blood sugar levels and alter the medications they are taking for diabetes. So if you are diabetic and are looking forward to conceive, there are ways and means to minimise the risks for both you and your child.

  • You can start with a pre-conception counselling appointment with your doctor. Your counsellor can help you get prepared both emotionally & physically for the pregnancy.
  • Track your sugar levels history for the past eight to twelve weeks. A simple blood test called the glycosylated hemoglobin test (HbA1c, or just A1c) can help you ascertain this. Consult your doctor and confirm if your diabetes is controlled well enough for you to start planning for a pregnancy.
  • Take added precautions and get checked for some more problems so as to prevent any sort of complications during pregnancy. You can get yourself checked for urinalysis to check for kidney problems; cholesterol and triglyceride blood tests; eye exam to check if you may have glaucoma, cataracts, or retinopathy; electrocardiogram; LFT & KFT to make sure your kidneys and liver are working fine; foot exam; etc.

Controlling Your Diabetes

Having a higher blood sugar levels, particularly in the early stages of pregnancy (13 weeks or less), can lead to birth defects. Not only can it increase the chances of developing diabetes-related complications, it can also amplify the risks of miscarriage. But since it is common for women to not quite know if they’re pregnant until the baby has been growing for two to four weeks, it is generally advised that you should always have a good control over your blood sugar before looking forward to conceiving. An ideal range of normal blood sugar levels in the body is 70 to 100 mg/dL before meals; less than 120 mg/dL two hours after eating; and between 100-140 mg/dL before dinner. Follow strict diets, exercise well, have healthier meals, and keep those medications in order. You must take good care of yourself to keep a healthy balance and ensure that your child is healthy too.

Diabetes Can Affect Your Child

Children born to women with a pre-existing condition of diabetes are usually born much bigger. This is medical condition called “macrosomia”. Because their moms tend to have high blood sugar levels, they also get too much sugar through the placenta. The child’s pancreas senses this and tends to make up more insulin to use it up. The extra sugar gets converted into fat, making the child larger or bigger in size.

Many doctors keep babies of mothers with diabetes on special observation for several hours after their birth. If you constantly have high blood sugar while you’re pregnant, especially in the last 24 hours before delivery, your baby can witness a condition of dangerously low blood sugar levels right after the birth. Their existing insulin system is based on high sugar because of you, and when that is suddenly changed (after birth), their blood sugar level tends to drop rather quickly and they need extra glucose to balance it out. Sometimes, the calcium and magnesium levels can get altered right after birth too, but they can be fixed with medication. If your baby grows a little too big, it may not be the best idea to go for a normal delivery (delivering your baby vaginally), and you’ll need a caesarean delivery or c-section. Whatever be the case, your doctor will keep an eye on the child’s size so you can prepare and plan for the safest way to give birth.

Things worth Noting

  • If you are using insulin to control your blood sugar, your doctor may ask you to adjust your dose depending on the stage of pregnancy. You might probably need more of insulin, especially during the last three months of your pregnancy.
  • If you are taking pills to keep your diabetes in check, you might be required to switch to insulin instead. It is usually not quite safe to use some medicines or drugs during pregnancy because although they might not be affecting your body normally, but they may have some ill effects on your unborn baby.
  • Making alterations to your diet can have a lot of positive effects on your diabetes. Changing what and how you eat can significantly help avoiding problems with your blood sugar levels.
  • Mothers with mild diabetes often go full-term without any problems. There’s no need to worry when your sugar is in control. However, most doctors prefer and recommend an early delivery, around weeks 38 to 39 so as to avoid any last minute complications.
  • If your physician gives you a shot of insulin right before your delivery, don’t be alarmed. Child labour can be a stressful time for both the mother and the baby.

Diabetes does affect your pregnancy and an uncontrolled condition can certainly cause infertility, but if you take good care of yourself and keep your sugar levels in check, you can have a normal pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby.