Can I Get Pregnant If I Have Type 2 Diabetes?
Very few diabetes education programs are designed for young people diagnosed or living with type 2 diabetes. I remember speaking with a young woman who felt out of place attending her local type 2 diabetes education program. Many in the program were much older than her and faced different questions and challenges than she did.
Concerns about type 2 diabetes and pregnancy are valid
One of the burning questions that she felt was never addressed or answered was, "Is it safe for me to have a baby someday?" More and more people in their teens, 20s, 30s and 40s are developing type 2 diabetes. If you’re planning to be pregnant one day, you may have the same concerns that this woman had.
Healthy pregnancy is possible with type 2 diabetes
Many who have a desire to become pregnant may have been falsely told that having babies with type 2 diabetes is dangerous or impossible. The good news - it’s not impossible. While managing diabetes during pregnancy offers a unique set of challenges, many people with type 2 diabetes have had healthy pregnancies and children.
Preparing for pregnancy
Some preparation often needs to be done prior to pregnancy. Here are a few things to help you as you start the process of planning for your family.
Some diabetes medications have not been studied in those who are pregnant, which means we don’t know how they affect a growing baby. If you’re using non-insulin medications, you may need to switch to insulin before getting pregnant. Talk with your obstetrics provider (OBGYN) or primary care provider (PCP) about your plans to become pregnant and what changes will need to be made to your medication before trying.
Diabetes training and education
Unlike the young woman mentioned above, many people never attend diabetes training. Yet diabetes training can offer a lot of insight on how to manage type 2 diabetes during pregnancy. Some topics covered include:
- The importance of timing, types of food, and physical activity to stabilize blood sugars
- Blood sugar and insulin changes during pregnancy
- Blood sugar goals in pregnancy
- Insulin training (if needed)
- Recommended screenings for diabetes complications
Managing healthy blood sugars
Maintaining healthy blood sugars is important, and it’s even more important in pregnancy. Both updated lab work and regular blood sugar monitoring are critical parts of planning for a pregnancy. Unhealthy blood sugar levels can increase the risk of heartbreaking complications, such as birth defects or stillbirths. Work with your OBGYN or PCP to make your blood sugars are in a safe range to start trying for a baby.1,2
Finding a social support network is important
Just like the woman in my story, you may feel isolated or alone trying to have children and raise them while living with diabetes. Thank goodness for social media and websites that can connect you with others going through similar circumstances!
A few good "go-to" resources include DiabetesSisters (a support group focusing on women's needs for healthcare and all types of diabetes) and The Diabetes App (which has a group chat for parents with type 2 diabetes). There are a ton more resources out there, including the forums on this website! You may even find a Facebook group that matches the support you need.
Although it may look different and pose new challenges, it is possible to have a healthy pregnancy if you have diabetes.
Have you experienced any foot complications from diabetes?