Diabetes and Your Pregnancy ( Diabetes )
When women are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, the first question they often ask is whether the condition can cause birth defects. While you do need to take some precautions during pregnancy for the health and safety of your fetus, there is very little data that supports a direct connection between hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) and birth defects.
Hypoglycemia, however, can still be dangerous if you’re pregnant. Symptoms of severe hypoglycemia, which include a confused or hostile mental state, lack of coordination, fatigue, and even fainting, can increase the risk of an accident, which may be harmful to both you and your fetus.
If you take insulin, hypoglycemia is always a risk, but there’s an additional concern if you’re pregnant: A condition called hypoglycemia unawareness, where you do not recognize that you have low blood glucose, can be greatly exaggerated during pregnancy, especially if you have type 1.
There are some steps you can take, however, to avoid hypoglycemia. First, talk to your diabetes care team and follow your doctor’s instructions. During pregnancy, some doctors may ask you to monitor your blood glucose levels up to eight times daily, and will often advise you to treat blood glucose levels of 60 mg/dl or below whether you have symptoms or not. It’s always good to check blood glucose levels before you drive, as well.
Working closely with your diabetes care team can help ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy. If you have questions about your blood glucose levels, don’t hesitate to call your doctor.