Diabetes and a Healthy Pregnancy

If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes and hope to have a baby someday, an important step is getting control of your condition first.

Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you may greatly increase your chance of a normal pregnancy if you manage your blood sugar and get good medical care.

Before you get pregnant

Uncontrolled high blood sugar can raise the risk of pregnancy complications, such as miscarriage. It can also cause problems like birth defects or premature birth.*

Often, women don’t know they’re pregnant until a few weeks after a baby is conceived. High blood sugar during these crucial early weeks can damage the baby’s heart, brain and spine.** This is why planning for a baby is so important.

The American Diabetes Association says it’s a good idea to have good blood sugar control for at least three to six months before you get pregnant. If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, consider taking these steps:

  • See your doctor. Tell your doctor you are planning a pregnancy. And discuss whether you need to make changes to your treatment plan.
  • Ask about your target blood sugar range. You may need to test your blood sugar more often than you do now. Your doctor can tell you when and how often you should test — and what your goals should be.
  • Ask if you need to see any specialists. You may need a doctor who specializes in high-risk pregnancies, for instance. Or you may want to work with a registered dietitian or diabetes educator.
  • Ask about exercise. Talk with your doctor about what types and amounts of activity are safe for you before and during pregnancy.
  • Make sure your vaccines are up to date. This includes an annual flu shot.
  • See your eye doctor. Pregnancy can raise your risk for eye problems — or make existing problems worse.

Once you’re expecting

It is important to go for regular prenatal checkups while you are pregnant. Call your doctor right away if you notice any unusual symptoms that may be related to diabetes.

Pregnancy can make it harder to manage your blood sugar. Continue to check it regularly. And talk with your doctor about any concerns. Be sure to mention if you are struggling to stay in your target ranges. Also ask how to treat low blood sugar while you’re pregnant.

Your treatment plan may need to change during pregnancy. So talk with your doctor about:

  • What medicines you should take
  • How much weight you should gain
  • Changes you should make to your meal or exercise plans

After the baby arrives

Your blood sugar could fluctuate in the first few weeks. Your body is working to adjust and recover. Breastfeeding can also affect your blood sugar. Talk with your doctor about any changes to your treatment plan that you may need in this new stage.

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What to do next

Enroll in the Healthy Pregnancy Program to get personalized support through each stage of your pregnancy. Go to healthy-pregnancy.com.


*Sources: American Diabetes Association; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

**Source: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be nor should be construed as medical or other advice. Talk to an appropriate health care professional to determine what may be right for you.

Last reviewed June 2017

© 2017 United HealthCare Services, Inc.