Pregnancy and Type 1 Diabetes
Of course, having type 1 diabetes shouldn’t prevent you from having a baby. But it does mean that you and your unborn child need the very best, most expert care, at every stage of your pregnancy – preferably starting before you conceive. We’re here to take the best possible care of you.
Preconception planning and care
If you have type 1 diabetes and are planning to have a baby, it’s extremely important to establish good blood glucose control before conception, in order to reduce the risk of miscarriage and serious birth defects.
At a preconception appointment, your diabetes consultant will discuss optimal blood glucose levels and a safe HbA1c goal, which you will aim to achieve before conceiving.
The consultant may suggest having your HbA1c monitored more frequently during this period. You may also be advised to consider insulin pump therapy and continuous glucose monitoring, to help you achieve optimal diabetes control.
Healthy diet, healthy pregnancy
Of course, it's also very important to eat healthily during pregnancy – and our specialist diabetes dietitians will be able to advise you on an individualised diet and supplements if required.
If you have a body mass index above 27, you may be advised to lose weight before becoming pregnant. Obesity can increase complications such as high blood pressure and increase the chances of having a caesarean section.
Other important pre-pregnancy checks
If you suffer from hypothyroidism or low thyroid function, it may affect your developing baby’s nervous system, so it should be treated before you conceive.
You should also get a comprehensive eye exam, and have your kidney function tested, before becoming pregnant.
The Nine-Month Pregnancy Stretch
To create the ideal environment needed to produce a healthy baby, strictly controlled blood glucose levels are crucial. This is a challenge for a variety of reasons.
In the first trimester, you might not notice any changes, though many women with type 1 diabetes experience hypoglycemia during this period. But around week 20, your insulin resistance will increase, raising your blood glucose.
Insulin resistance builds as pregnancy continues and by the end of the third trimester, your insulin needs may be double what they were before pregnancy.
This means that frequent insulin adjustments must be made throughout your pregnancy. Our team of diabetes specialist nurses and dietitians will be on hand to provide expert and timely support – face-to-face, or by phone or email – ensuring your insulin is controlled as precisely as possible during this vitally important period.
Looking after your newborn baby
After your baby is born, blood glucose tends to stabilise to pre-pregnancy levels fairly quickly; but women who breast-feed have a tendency to develop hypoglycaemia.
It’s a good idea to breast-feed because it can reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes in your baby, but it does mean we’ll need to closely monitor your blood glucose.