Type 1 diabetes and pregnancy

ype 1 diabetes and pregnancy

There is a difference between having type 1 diabetes and pregnancy and having gestational diabetes. Both issues are very serious and will require you to work very closely with your obstetrician and your diabetes healthcare professional. It is important to note off the top that most pregnancies for diabetic mothers result in normal healthy newborn babies.

Like any long term complications associated with being diabetic, falling pregnant requires a mother to be to be highly aware of the dangers of un-managed and uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Failing to manage proper blood sugar control will ensure that complications develop through the term of pregnancy. diabetes and pregnancy


Your first port of call when it comes to type 1 diabetes and pregnancy is your healthcare professional, obstetrician and diabetes educator. They will be able formulate the best plan of attack for you throughout the course of the pregnancy.  The first 8 weeks are crucial in terms of the early development of your baby. Again excellent control of your blood sugar is absolutely critical in this phase.  Having a healthy diet while getting plenty of fresh air and exercise will do wonders for your baby in this time.

If you are a non diabetic interested in the warnings signs of gestational diabetes please see this post.

Type 1 diabetes and pregnancy complications…

The main risk surrounding type 1 diabetes and pregnancy is the heightened chance of a miscarriage. There is also an elevated risk in the very early stages of pregnancy, when the babies organs are beginning to grow. Serious birth defects can occur during this period. Later in the pregnancy period there is a risk that with elevated blood sugar levels the baby can grow too big. There can be serious problems here, especially during the birth of the baby.

type 1 diabetes and birth defects

How can the risks be minimised?

Minimising the risks of miscarriage or birth defects of your baby begins before conception with proper planning. Here are some pointers to work on prior to getting down the the baby making business –

  • Get your blood sugars under control. Your HbA1c level (average blood sugar reading over a 3 month period) should be under 7mmol/L or  126 mg/dL and you should be constantly monitoring your blood glucose levels.
  • Get your diet under control. Eat a diet with lots of healthy raw foods. Get your calorie intake under control and focus on hitting the right quantity/ quality of carbs, protein and fat. See a nutritionist if need be. Perhaps take a folic acid capsule every day as a supplement. Please see this post about the best diet ideas during pregnancy here.
  • Get more exercise on a daily basis. Aim for 40 minutes at least 4-5 times per week.
  • Stop drinking. Try mocktails instead of cocktails. Limit your time in bars and clubs and places where you will be tempted to drink
  • Stop smoking. This is a no brainer. You should quit smoking especially if you are a diabetic. Long term complications are almost a certainty if you continue to smoke.
  • Reduce your caffeine intake. A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2008 showed that high caffeine intake during pregnancy increase the risk of miscarriage

The effects pregnancy has on diabetes

  • There can be a significant change in pregnant women’s eating patterns during pregnancy. Women crave certain foods and are completely turned off by others as their hormones change during the term of their pregnancy.
  • There is usually a dramatic increase in insulin requirements during the 18-28 week period of pregnancy. After the birth of the child insulin requirements usually scale back to what they were before conception.
  • There is an increased risk of hyper and hyopoglycemia during pregnancy. Both these conditions need to be monitored very closely as they can impact the health of the baby.
  • Pre-existing conditions such as retinopathy can deteriorate during pregnancy.

It is important to have regular visits to your doctor and obstetrician. Before during and after the pregnancy you should have testing done on your kidneys, cholesterol levels, your eyes, your liver and your feet.

How pre-existing diabetes can affect your baby

Babies that are born to mothers with type 1 diabetes are often born much bigger than babies born to mothers without diabetes. This condition is known type 1 diabetes and pregnancyas macrosomia. This is because women who are not controlling their blood sugars well have sugar seep through the placenta. The baby’s response is to produce more insulin of its own. The extra sugar is then stored as fat in the baby.

Quite often diabetic women will have to have a cesarean delivery as a result of babies growing too large for a normal birth.

Diabetic women will often be kept in hospital a little longer after the birth of their baby to ensure that your blood sugars stabilise and return to normal.  If you happen to have high blood sugar levels in the 24 hours prior to the birth it is possible it is possible that your baby will be born with dangerously low blood sugar levels as their body adapts to life outside their diabetic mother.

Insulin resistance in the 3rd trimester

You and your unborn baby will naturally gain weight during the 3rd trimester of your pregnancy. As your baby continues to grow and develop as will your insulin resistance. Quite often a type 1 diabetic mother will be 3 to 4 times the regular insulin dose during this time. This will mean that you will have to pay extra close attention to your blood glucose levels. Be sure to test every hour or so to have them in check.

Diabetic Dads need to be careful too…

If the father of to be is a type 1 diabetic then precautions must be taken before conception. Unfortunately erectile dysfunction and a low sperm count are a sad reality for a type 1 diabetic. It makes absolute sense that a type 1 dad-to-be speaks with their doctor to optimise their health and fertility prior to trying for a baby. Again, it makes sense to have your blood sugar levels managed very well ion the lead up to conception.

Further factors including hypoglycemia

Keep an eye on morning sickness and how it may negatively impact your blood sugar levels. Your doctor may want to adjust your daily insulin dose if morning sickness and low blood sugar is an ongoing issue for you.

Hypoglycemia can be a scary thing during pregnancy.  If you have a bad low it would be worth getting in touch with the doctor to make sure everything is ok with bub. If you feel weak or like you might pass out due to low blood sugars, be careful of your bump and find a safe place to rest after your eat something sugary to bring yourself around.

The best resource for a successful, healthy pregnancy

If you or your partner is having trouble with infertility, especially if you are in your late 30’s or early 40’s then I highly recommend that you get your hands on a copy of this eBook. Following the instructions can see you get pregnant naturally in under 2 months. This is especially helpful if you are having trouble conceiving because of problems with type 1 diabetes. It is another crucial piece of the puzzle that can help you become pregnant very quickly. I highly recommend that Mum’s or Dad’s to be read this before exploring more expensive alternatives.


As mentioned off the top type 1 diabetes and pregnancy is a serious issue but with proper care and attention to your health it should see both Mum and bub have a healthy and safe arrival of the new born. Do not let diabetes put you off having a baby if you want one. Please know the risks for Mums and Dads to be. Please also read the eBook that I recommended to have a successful and healthy pregnancy.

For further information and tips on how to manage diabetes during pregnancy please see this post.

Please get in touch with me below to tell us about your pregnancy.

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  1. shrey

    I really like the article but since you recommend here that 40-45 minutes of exercise can help , but isn’t it very tiring to do this amount of exercise during pregnancy with all nausea and the constant tired feeling?
    Apart from that I do understand avoiding smoking and caffeine intake and would work on that.

    1. Ben (Post author)

      Hi Shrey. In an ideal world you would exercise 40-45 mins of low impact activity per day but you need to listen to your body. If the body says no, you should too ;o)


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