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Women whom had diabetes used to be told not to get pregnant because of the risks involved. The movie Steel Magnolias features a character that goes through a pregnant diabetic experience with tragic consequences. However, in recent times, the care and treatment of diabetes has advanced to the degree that the risk is far more minimal and manageable.
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Before becoming pregnant, it is important for women with diabetes to consult with their physician. Various tests will be used to determine a diabetic woman’s individual health risks and what steps will need to be taken to ensure a safe pregnancy for both mom and baby.
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Testing and Assessment
An assessment before pregnancy will likely include testing of kidney function with a urinalysis; eyes for glaucoma, retinopathy and cataracts; triglycerides and cholesterol.
Because most women don’t know they are pregnant until at least several weeks into the pregnancy, it is important to have good diabetes management before becoming pregnant in order to reduce risks to the baby. Poor blood sugar management can result in birth defects and increased risk of miscarriage.
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Management of Diabetes During Pregnancy
In addition to traditional prenatal care, close monitoring of mom and baby will be given due to the diabetic condition of mom and risks for both. A special dietary and exercise plan will likely be given, and may be adjusted throughout the pregnancy as needed. Special attention will be paid to medication effectiveness on blood sugar levels.
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Generally, women with diabetes are scheduled for delivery at 38 to 39 weeks into their term. Though full-term delivers are possible for those with mild or well-managed diabetes, physicians often prefer scheduling an earlier delivery.
Risks for the unborn baby of a diabetic woman are the same as those of a woman who gets gestational diabetes and are covered in the article titled “Gestational Diabetes: Getting Diabetes during Pregnancy” that comprises the other article in this series on pregnancy and diabetes.
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Diabetes and Pregnancy. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/gestational-diabetes/pregnancy.jsp
Diabetes and Pregnancy. Women’s Health –WebMD. Reviewed by Jaswant S. Chaddha, MD, FACS, FACOG September 22, 2007. http://women.webmd.com/pregnancy-diabetes
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Diabetes monitoring kit used by pregnant woman.Jessica Merz. Wikimedia Commons. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license.