Friday, January 15, 2021

Diabetes & Pregnancy


Just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant, it just means you must take even more care in delivering your perfect package into this world…

Even though diabetes is a chronic disease, Type II diabetes is not a genetically transmittable disease. It is true that the baby will have a predisposition of developing Type I (if you or someone in your family suffers from Type I diabetes) or Type II diabetes point later in life. With a healthy diet and a balanced lifestyle, Type II diabetes can be easily avoided.

What is diabetes?

When talking about a diabetes diet and pregnancy, it is crucial that we understand what diabetes really is. Diabetes is a chronic disease – that means it lasts throughout your life. It occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when bad insulin is produced. This leads to high blood sugar, as the body cannot process glucose in order to fuel muscles, liver cells and fat. There are three types of diabetes:

  • Type I
  • Type II
  • Gestational diabetes

Type I diabetes is diagnosed early and it is considered the worst kind. The body produces very little or no insulin and requires daily injections.

Type II diabetes is the most common kind of the disease. The pancreas produces either too little or bad insulin, causing higher blood glucose than normal. Type II diabetes is often caused by an unhealthy lifestyle and more likely to develop in persons that are overweight.

Gestational diabetes is the only form of diabetes in pregnancy meaning it only affects women during pregnancy. While it is manageable, it doubles the risk of Type II diabetes and cardiovascular diseases for the mother.

Diet during pregnancy for Diabetic Women

As soon as a woman becomes pregnant, her body will have to cope with feeding two organisms – herself and the baby. She will need to eat more in order to keep the baby healthy and developing properly. Each pregnancy trimester has its own characteristics concerning the baby’s development. For example, bones only start to calcify by the end of the second trimester. It is crucial that the mother has her daily ration of calcium-filled foods in order to help with this process.

Managing a diabetes diet and pregnancy is tricky, but not impossible. The mother will just have to watch for her blood sugar levels while still provide the baby with healthy proteins.

Counting calories is very important. In the first trimester (until the 12th week of pregnancy) the calorie count should remain the same. In the second and third trimester, usually 300 more calories will need to be added to your regular diet.

Carbohydrates are very important in your diet during pregnancy. Up to 50% of your calories should come from complex carbohydrates like whole wheat bread, brown rice and oatmeal. Other carbohydrate-rich foods are fresh fruits, vegetables and milk.

Protein rich foods should account for 20% of your calorie intake, while around 30% of your daily calories should come from fat. Avoid saturated fats and instead, go with monounsaturated and omega-3 fats. Eat around 35g of fiber each day to help stabilize blood glucose in your system. Avoid sodium rich foods.

Prenatal vitamins can also substitute for any low levels of substances your body or your baby’s body needs. A B12 supplement may also be recommended. Avoid most artificial sweeteners, for they can cross the placenta and get into your baby’s body.

Talk with your doctor is you suffer from diabetes and pregnant. They can discuss a plan that will work for you throughout your pregnancy. You might even want to see a nutritionist that specializes in diabetes.

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Jennifer Olson
A mother of three, lover of children and keeping them (and us adults!) as healthy as can be. I have worked as a midwife and nurse for 12 years. Email:

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