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Q&A: Pregnancy & diabetes

| Wellness | Healthy You | Chronic Conditions

A healthcare provider checks a patient's blood oxygen levels

I have diabetes and want to get pregnant. What can I do to minimize the risks to my baby?

Talking to your doctor before you conceive is the best first step. Planning ahead allows you to get your blood sugar levels under control before pregnancy. This is important because the birth defects associated with diabetes originate in the early weeks of pregnancy, before you may realize you are pregnant.

Controlling your blood sugar also decreases the risk of having a miscarriage. Your doctor may recommend a blood test (hemoglobin A1C) that reflects your average blood sugar over the last couple of months.

The test is also used to monitor blood sugar control during pregnancy. Also, write down your blood sugar numbers and bring them to your visit so that your doctor can help optimize your medications before you get pregnant.

While you’re waiting to get in to see your doctor, start taking prenatal vitamins to get the folic acid you need to help prevent spina bifida. Spina bifida is a disease where the spinal cord doesn’t form right, and it is more common in babies born to mothers with diabetes.

Learn more about diabetes and pregnancy.

This healthy living tip courtesy of Chad Thomas, MD, PhD​.