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Diabetes complications during pregnancy, for women with type 2 diabetes

Your doctor will advise you to have a baseline screening for all diabetes complications before pregnancy.

If you do have any complications, they should be assessed and stabilised before you become pregnant. They will also need to be closely monitored throughout your pregnancy.

Pregnancy can worsen some of the complications of long-term diabetes, such as renal damage (kidneys) and retinopathy (eyes).

Kidneys

Diabetes complications that affect the kidneys can increase the chance of problems with your blood pressure in the second half of pregnancy (usually after 26 weeks). Even minor kidney problems (such as low levels of protein in the urine) can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure in pregnancy.

If you have any problems with your kidneys during pregnancy, your baby’s growth will need to be monitored carefully. If you have no signs of kidney problems or only very mild problems before pregnancy, it is unlikely that a pregnancy will have any long-term effects on your kidney function. If you already have diabetes-related kidney disease, pregnancy may cause your kidney function to worsen.

Eyes

Rapid improvements in blood glucose levels can increase the risk of developing eye problems or make any existing eye complications worse. Gradually reducing your HbA1c before you become pregnant can reduce the risk of these problems occurring.

If you have eye problems that become worse during pregnancy, laser treatment is safe if you need it. Any eye problems that may have developed during pregnancy tend to improve after the birth, usually by the time the baby is three to four months old. You will need to have your eyes checked regularly throughout the pregnancy and then again, a couple of months after your baby is born.

Diabetes complications and pregnancy

If you have diabetes complications, it is particularly important to have specialised management of your diabetes during pregnancy. It is best for your pregnancy to be managed in a major hospital that has a lot of obstetric and diabetes medical support, as well as the best facilities for babies if they are born early or have any problems when they are born.