Diabetes complications

Women with type 1 diabetes

Diabetes complications screening

Before falling pregnant it is important to be checked for any diabetes related complications in your kidneys, eyes and nerves.

You will need to have your kidneys and eyes checked during your pregnancy as well. 

Kidneys

Your doctor will ask you to have a urine test to check the amount of protein/albumin passing through your kidneys. You will also have a blood test to check the function of your kidneys.

If there are any problems, you may need to see a kidney specialist before falling pregnant and you will need to be monitored carefully during your pregnancy (especially in relation to your blood pressure). Even minor kidney problems (such as slightly increased levels of protein in the urine) can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure during pregnancy.   

Eyes

Make an appointment to see an optometrist or an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) to have the back of your eyes checked. Make sure they know you have diabetes. If you have damage to the small blood vessels at the back of the eye (diabetic retinopathy), this needs to be stable before you fall pregnant. Ask your eye specialist if you need any treatment before pregnancy. 

Nerves 

Your podiatrist, diabetes educator or doctor can test for nerve damage in your feet (peripheral neuropathy), using simple physical examinations such as a tuning fork or a ‘monofilament’ that measures pressure sensation.

Some women with long standing diabetes may develop another type of nerve damage called autonomic neuropathy. This can lead to problems with stomach emptying (feeling full or bloated), bowel movement (diarrhoea, constipation) and unstable blood pressure. If you have any of these complications, you should discuss them with your doctor before falling pregnant.

Advanced complications

If you have advanced diabetes complications, it is important to discuss the risks of pregnancy with your doctor before planning to fall pregnant, as pregnancy does put additional stress on your body.