You've just taken The Test and it came back with those unmistakable two lines—your intuition was right, you're pregnant! But instead of feeling overjoyed and excited, you find yourself worried and anxious. You're pregnant and you're a diabetic. How will your illness affect your pregnancy and your unborn baby?
Years ago, pregnancy for women with chronic diseases such as diabetes, epilepsy, and asthma was frowned upon by many obstetricians. Today, with advances in medicine and proper prenatal care, healthy pregnancies and deliveries are possible for women with chronic illnesses.
The human body breaks digested food down into sugar and moves it into the bloodstream. At the same time, the pancreas produces a hormone called insulin that moves the sugar from the blood into your cells for energy. When too little insulin is produced, or none at all, diabetes occurs.
According to the March of Dimes, one in 100 women has diabetes before getting pregnant, and 3 to 5 percent of women develop diabetes during their pregnancy (known as gestational diabetes).
There are three different classifications of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, and gestational.
- Type 1 diabetes, commonly referred to as insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes, occurs when the pancreas does not produce any insulin. Type 1 diabetics need daily injections of insulin to survive.
- Type 2 diabetes is the most common of the three, found in 90 percent of people in the United States with diabetes. With Type 2, the pancreas does not make enough insulin, or the insulin that it produces doesn't work correctly. Type 2 diabetics' conditions are usually controlled through daily glucose monitoring, oral medications, a modified diet, and exercise.
Gestational diabetesdevelops in pregnancy and often disappears after childbirth. Gestational diabetes shares similar symptoms with Type I and Type 2, and occurs when there is too much glucose in the blood. Women are tested for gestational diabetes during the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy, though women classified as high-risk (those who have diabetes or who may have had gestational diabetes during previous pregnancies) are usually tested earlier.