There’s good news if you have diabetes and are thinking of trying to get pregnant. Thanks to the work of physicians like Dr. Florence Brown, director of the Joslin Diabetes Center/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Diabetes and Pregnancy Program, your prospects for a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby are better than ever.
To make that happen, you need to plan ahead and know what to watch out for. Be sure to consult the newly updated Guidelines for Diabetes in Pregnancy published on the Joslin Diabetes Center web site: (http://www.joslin.org/bin_from_cms/Diabetes_Pregnancy_guidelines9.10_2010..pdf)
Ideally, preparation for a pregnancy should begin at least six months prior to conception.
Work with your team of diabetes specialists and keep them informed of your pregnancy decision and updated on your health.
Your team should include:
Endocrinologist – The doctor who is an expert in treating diabetes.
Perinatologist – The obstetrician who specializes in caring for and delivering high-risk pregnancies.
Nurse educator – The professional nurse who specializes in the management of diabetes and is skilled in teaching diabetes self-management.
Nutrition educator – The professional who is trained to provide medical nutrition therapy for diabetes and who is also skilled in teaching meal planning for people with diabetes.
Ophthalmologist – A doctor who specializes in monitoring and treating eye diseases.
Primary care doctor – A doctor who manages or oversees your general health.
In addition, you should consider adding to your team:
Social worker – A mental health professional who can help you and your partner deal with the emotional and social impact of diabetes and pregnancy.
Other health professionals – A podiatrist (foot doctor), a pediatrician or neonatologist (a doctor who specializes in caring for newborns), a kidney specialist, nurse practitioners and others may also be on your healthcare team.
And don’t forget your significant other or partner and your support system: the people close to you who provide you with support and encouragement in managing your diabetes and your pregnancy. These are the people who will help you stay both mentally and physically healthy—your closest allies. Because diabetes can affect so many different areas of the body, it’s important to build a relationship with all of these specialists in case you need to rely on them more heavily than expected due to body changes caused by pregnancy.
You can and should recruit all of these people to help maintain your health during pregnancy but ultimately your health belongs to you. Make sure you’re on top of your blood glucose levels. Be prepared to give more time than you normally would to monitoring your diabetes.
Most importantly, stay in the know. Know as much as you can about your body and learn everything you can about diabetes and pregnancy. Even though your pregnancy requires a bit more care than some others doesn’t mean it can’t be fulfilling and joyful.
For more information on pregnancy and diabetes can be found in our newly published book: Staying Healthy with Diabetes — Planning and Managing Your Pregnancy
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