There is a difference between gestational diabetes and type 1 diabetes and pregnancy. While gestational diabetes is said to occur to women with high blood sugar caused by pregnancy, type 1 diabetes (previously known as juvenile diabetes) is a preexisting condition before the woman gets pregnant.

Type 1 diabetes and pregnancy can be a serious matter since the condition is known to cause significant complications if left uncontrolled during pregnancy.

Problems such as macrosomia (very large babies), fetal over growth, or conversely fetal restricted growth, or birth defects could be problems caused to the fetus. There could be health issues later in life for the baby as well.

For the mother as well, diabetes could be early labor or a complicated or difficult birth. The risk of miscarriage and still birth are also higher with uncontrolled type 1 diabetes in pregnancy.

Management of type 1 diabetes and pregnancy should begin prior to conceiving

Women who have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes should consult a doctor before getting pregnant, as soon as they make the decision to get pregnant.

If a pregnancy has occurred unexpectedly, a diabetic woman should consult with a doctor immediately for proper sugar management during the pregnancy, because unmanaged sugar levels in pregnancy mean a high risk pregnancy.

It is necessary to start controlling blood sugar quite stringently before and throughout pregnancy to try and keep as close to normal range as possible. So try and consult with a doctor who has some experience in managing diabetes during pregnancy. Also, give up any substance abuse, smoking or drinking in advance of pregnancy.

Tips for care and management of type 1 diabetes and pregnancy

Since diabetes impacts the kidneys as well as the eyes, these organs should be checked before pregnancy as well as periodically through pregnancy because the pregnancy could cause their condition to worsen.

Regular testing of blood sugar should be done throughout pregnancy to make sure that the levels are not shooting up and out of control. Also a proper record of the results of the tests should be maintained so that they can be referred to at any point. Healthy blood sugar levels should be 95 mg/dl in the morning (before eating anything), below 140 mg/dl an hour after a meal and less than 120 mg/dl two hours after a meal.

A diet to lower blood sugar levels should be followed stringently for type 1 diabetes and pregnancy, and it is best to consult with an expert who will outline an ideal diet for the expectant mother. Diabetic women are advised to cut down on sweets, eat greater quantities of fruit, veg and whole grain foods and have regular, frequent meals. Healthy snacks at regular intervals during the day are recommended.

Exercise that is especially suitable for diabetics should also be religiously followed during pregnancy. Aqua aerobics, swimming, walking and so on are particularly recommended and are usually safe to do throughout pregnancy.

Management of type 1 diabetes and pregnancy could require extra insulin for the duration of the pregnancy. A perinatal diabetes management plan may be required to keep glucose levels in control.