Diabetes and Preparing for Pregnancy

Good preparation can help ensure your pregnancy runs smoothly
Good preparation can help ensure your pregnancy runs smoothly

Preconception care enables you to be well prepared for your pregnancy. With the additional challenges of having diabetes, preconception care carries extra benefits.

If you are planning to become pregnant, arrange an appointment with your GP or specialist so that a care plan can be prepared and you may be referred to a diabetic preconception clinic.

Preconception health assessment

As part of your preconception care you should receive a health assessment that will consider your diabetes as well as other aspects of health and fitness, such as how much exercise you’re able to do and your diet.

As part of your health assessment you should be screened for conditions which could affect your baby, such as cystic fibrosis and Huntingdon’s disease.

If you are due to have a cervical screening test, it’s best to have this done before your pregnancy.

Blood glucose control

One of the most important factors for a successful pregnancy is to keep your blood sugar levels under good control.

It is beneficial if you can establish good control before your pregnancy.

The first trimester of pregnancy is an important time so having well controlled diabetes from the outset is recommended.

You should ideally aim for an HbA1c of 6.1% (43 mmol/mol) before becoming pregnant.

Medication

Some medications are not recommended for use during pregnancy.

This may include some blood pressure lowering medications and some anti-diabetic medication.

Your doctor will be able to advise you on any medication changes that may be needed.

Retinopathy

Charity Diabetes UK notes that pregnancy can lead to increased pressure in the small vessels of the retina and therefore if any signs of retinopathy needed to be treated, this is best done before pregnancy.

Smoking and alcohol

As smoking and alcohol are known to be damaging for the development of your baby, you should aim to stop drinking and smoking before starting your pregnancy.

Your healthcare team can provide help to assist you in stopping smoking and/or drinking alcohol.

Vaccinations

When planning a pregnancy, it is advised that you are up to date with vaccinations to prevent you from contracting illnesses such as chickenpox and rubella during your pregnancy.

Folic acid

It’s recommended that women planning a pregnancy take folic acid before their pregnancy where possible. Your doctor can prescribe folic acid for you.

Women with diabetes are put on a higher dose of folic acid than women without diabetes.

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