Blood glucose levels and pregnancy, for women with type 1 diabetes
At the time you conceive your baby and throughout pregnancy, well managed blood glucose levels are important for your health and that of your baby.
Conception and early pregnancy
High blood glucose levels in early pregnancy can increase the risk of health problems in the developing baby and the chances of an early miscarriage. This is why it’s important for your blood glucose levels to be as close to your target as possible when you conceive and in the initial stages of your pregnancy.
During pregnancy, glucose can freely cross the placenta to your baby, so your baby’s blood glucose levels will reflect your own. If your blood glucose levels are high, the normal response of your baby will be to produce extra insulin for themselves (this occurs from about 12 weeks gestation).
The combination of extra glucose and extra insulin can make your baby grow too big. This can cause problems during labour and delivery. Blood glucose levels as close as possible to the target range can help reduce the risk of your baby growing too big.
Blood glucose monitoring during your pregnancy
It is essential to monitor your blood glucose levels frequently during your pregnancy. Read more about:
- the importance of blood glucose monitoring during pregnancy
- when to test
- recommended blood glucose targets during pregnancy.
Risks to your newborn baby
Your own blood glucose levels in the time leading up to the birth of your baby have an important effect on your baby’s blood glucose levels. The higher your blood glucose is, the higher the glucose supply will be to your baby before birth. The extra glucose stimulates the baby’s pancreas to make more insulin. After birth, your glucose supply to your baby suddenly stops, but your baby may continue to produce excess insulin for several hours and even up to one or two days after birth. This can cause hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels) in the baby. Hypoglycaemia is more likely to occur if babies are born early or if they are very small or large. Your baby could also have trouble with feeding, breathing or other medical problems.
During pregnancy and labour, blood glucose levels close to the target range reduces these risks to your newborn baby.