Preparing for pregnancy

Information, advice and support

Talk with a member of your diabetes care team before you start trying for a baby, so that you can plan for a healthy pregnancy and reduce the risks for you and your baby. It is important to get information, care and advice to prepare for pregnancy before you stop using contraception. Your partner or a family member should be encouraged to come with you to appointments about preparing for pregnancy.

Your care team should explain that you should carry on using contraception until you have good blood glucose control. Good control reduces the chances of you having a miscarriage and of your baby not developing properly, being stillborn or dying soon after birth. It will also lower your baby's risk of having temporary health problems after the birth and of being obese and/or having diabetes in later life.

You should be given information about how having diabetes may affect your pregnancy, and how being pregnant may affect your diabetes. Extra time and effort is needed to manage diabetes during pregnancy, and you will see your care team a lot.

You might find it harder to tell when your blood glucose level is getting low (hypoglycaemia, or having a hypo) when you are pregnant. Vomiting or feeling sick during pregnancy can affect your blood glucose levels.

Your care team should explain that the complications of diabetes – such as problems with your eyes (diabetic retinopathy) or your kidneys (diabetic nephropathy) – can get worse during pregnancy. You may be at risk of having a large baby, which means that you are more likely to need help with the birth – for example, having your labour induced or a caesarean section.

You should be offered a place on a diabetes education course as soon as possible if you have not already been on one. You should also be given information about where you will be able go for support in your area when you are pregnant, including emergency contact numbers.

Diet, body weight and folic acid

You should be given advice about your diet, and about how to lose weight if you are overweight.

You should be advised to take folic acid while you are trying to get pregnant and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. This helps lower the chances of your baby having a condition called a neural tube defect, for example spina bifida (where parts of the backbone do not form properly and damage the baby's central nervous system). You should take a higher amount of folic acid (one 5 mg tablet a day) than women without diabetes. Your care team should give you a prescription, because this high‑dose tablet isn't available over the counter.

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