Mother carrying her new born baby for the first time

Expecting a baby? You can have a healthy pregnancy even when you have diabetes.

You can have a healthy pregnancy even when you have diabetes. Just take extra care to keep your blood glucose levels under tight control so that you and your baby can remain safe and healthy.

What Happens If Blood Glucose Levels are Not Well Controlled During Pregnancy?

Doctor examining a pregnant woman's belly during a check up

High blood glucose and ketones pass through the placenta to the baby. They are harmful to the baby especially in the early weeks of pregnancy when the baby’s organs are forming. There are possible risks to the mother and baby if blood glucose levels are too high during pregnancy.

Risks to the Baby

  • premature delivery
  • miscarriage
  • birth defects
  • high birth weight
  • jaundice (yellowing of the baby’s skin)
  • respiratory distress syndrome (difficulty breathing)

Risks to the Mother

  • worsening of diabetic eye problems
  • worsening of diabetic kidney problems
  • urine infections
  • preeclampsia (high blood pressure)
  • difficult delivery or caesarean section

Related: Diabetes in Childhood and Pregnancy

Tips on Taking Care of Yourself and Your Baby When You Have Diabetes

Before You Are Pregnant

A trainer holding on to a woman's foot while she does sit ups

  • If you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes and are thinking of having a baby, bring your diabetes under control three to six months before you plan to get pregnant.
  • Use Pregnancy When You Have Diabetes: A Checklist to help you prepare.

Related: Pre-pregnancy Preparation

During Your Pregnancy

Pregnant moms in a pilates class

Whether you were diabetic before you were pregnant or developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy, take extra care of yourself to have a healthy baby.

See a Doctor

If you have diabetes, your pregnancy is considered high risk. A diabetes health team (comprising obstetrician, endocrinologist, dietician and nurse educator) will work with you to make sure you and your baby stay healthy.

Check your Blood Glucose Often

When you are pregnant, your body changes to accommodate the growing baby. This affects your blood glucose levels. Being pregnant also makes it harder for you to know when you have low blood glucose.

Target Blood Glucose (mmol/L) for Pregnant Women with Diabetes
Before mealsLess than 5.5
1 hour after eatingLess than 7.8
2 hours after eatingLess than 6.7

Source: MOH Clinical Practice Guidelines 1/2014 for Diabetes Mellitus, Ministry of Health Singapore

Your doctor will help to determine your blood glucose goals. Use My Blood Glucose Diary to keep track of your blood glucose levels.

Eat Healthy Foods in the Right Amounts

You and your growing baby need nutrition. Rather than just eating more, you should try to eat well and stick to a balanced diet. Use My Healthy Plate to help you eat a variety of food in the right amount. Your dietician will work with you to control how much weight you gain during pregnancy and keep your blood glucose levels at targeted levels.

Related: Nutrition During Pregnancy—Eating Right for Two

Stay Active

It’s good to stay active when you are pregnant. Regular physical activity is safe for you. It helps with other problems you may have during pregnancy such as varicose veins, leg cramps, backache, fatigue and constipation. Exercise also helps insulin work better and keep your blood glucose levels in the target range.

You can take part in these activities:

  • walking
  • low impact aerobics
  • swimming
  • water aerobics
  • yoga

However, avoid activities that are too strenuous:

  • contact sports (judo, netball, hockey)
  • scuba diving
  • overly vigorous exercises (running long distances)
  • bouncing activities (high impact aerobics)

Talk to your diabetes health team about the risks of exercise during pregnancy if you have:

  • high blood pressure
  • eye, kidney or heart problem
  • damage to your blood vessels
  • nerve damage

Related: Do's and Don'ts in Pregnancy

Preparing for Labour

Young mom going for a doctor's check up

  • As the delivery date nears, your diabetes health team will help you decide on the best time and method (normal delivery, induced labour or planned caesarean section) to deliver your baby.
  • During labour and delivery, the health team will check your blood glucose levels closely.
  • Because of the care needed, we do not recommend home delivery for women with diabetes.

Related: 3 Stages of Labour

After Baby Arrives

Mother wiping the mouth of her new born after feeding time

  • breastfeed your baby if you can
  • keep to your doctor appointments for the baby
  • continue to eat healthy foods in the right amounts
  • stay active
  • aim for a healthy weight
  • If you have gestational diabetes, your doctor will order blood tests for you six to 12 weeks after the baby is born to check that your blood glucose levels have returned to normal.
  • Thereafter, go for regular health screening at least once every three years.

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