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For women with type 1 diabetes

Medical checks during pregnancy

During pregnancy you will need to have a number of tests to check your general health and the wellbeing of your baby, including:

  • HbA1c to assess your average glucose levels during pregnancy
  • full blood count to check for anaemia
  • iron studies, to make sure you are not iron deficient – your doctor will advise whether you need to take an iron supplement (most women will in the later part of their pregnancy)
  • kidney function tests.

Your doctor will arrange other checks as needed.

The main scans offered during pregnancy will include:

  • An early dating scan—at 7 to 8 weeks to estimate your due date.
  • 11–14 week scan—you may be offered an ultrasound which includes a nuchal translucency scan to estimate the risk of chromosomal abnormalities (such as Down syndrome).
  • Anatomical ultrasound (second trimester scan)—at 20 weeks to check your baby’s spine, limbs and organs.
  • Growth scan—in the last 3 months, scans will usually be done every 2 to 4 weeks to monitor the baby’s growth and wellbeing, as well as to check the fluid around the baby.
  • Cardiac scan—may sometimes be recommended to check your baby’s heart.

Your doctor may also recommend extra scans if there are any additional concerns.

Some women also choose to have a non-invasive prenatal screening (NIPS) done in early pregnancy. This blood test, which can be done as early as 10 weeks, is used to identify the risk of a number of genetic abnormalities, including Down syndrome. While more women are choosing to have this test done, it is expensive and is not covered by Medicare.

You will be asked to give a urine sample at each visit during your pregnancy. The samples are tested for albumin and protein, and it can also identify the presence of any infection that would need to be promptly treated.

A small amount of protein in the urine is not uncommon in pregnancy. However, a larger amount may indicate that the pregnancy has affected your kidneys or, in later pregnancy, that you are developing pre-eclampsia.

Sometimes your obstetrician may recommend that you have a cardiotocography test (CTG) monitoring, to check your baby’s heart rate. This test may be recommended in the later stages of pregnancy. A CTG takes about 30 minutes and involves two sensors being placed on your stomach. These sensors record an electronic trace as a graph of your baby’s heart rate and detect any contractions in your uterus.

Related resource

Diabetes Australia acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this Country. We recognise their connection to land, waters, winds and culture. We pay the upmost respect to them, their cultures and to their Elders, past and present. We are committed to improving health outcomes for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by diabetes and those at risk.

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