Diabetes and pregnancy risks

Women with type 1 diabetes

Blood glucose levels and pregnancy

Well managed blood glucose levels at the time you concieve your baby and throughout pregnancy are important for your health and that of your baby.  

Conception and early pregnancy 

High blood glucose levels in early pregnancy can increase the risk of health problems in the developing baby and the chances of an early miscarriage. This is why it’s important for your blood glucose levels to be as close to target as possible when you conceive and in the first part of your pregnancy.

During pregnancy

During pregnancy glucose can freely cross the placenta to your baby, so your baby’s blood glucose levels will reflect your own. If your blood glucose levels are high, the normal response of your baby will be to produce extra insulin for themselves (this occurs from about 12 weeks gestation).

The combination of extra glucose and extra insulin can make your baby grow too big. Having a large baby can cause problems during labour and delivery. Blood glucose levels as close to the target range as possible can help reduce the risk of your baby growing too large. 

Risks to your newborn baby

Your own blood glucose levels in the time leading up to the birth have an important effect on your baby’s blood glucose levels. The higher your blood glucose is, the higher the glucose supply will be to your baby before birth. The extra glucose stimulates the baby’s pancreas to make more insulin. After birth, your glucose supply to your baby suddenly stops, but your baby may continue to produce excess insulin for several hours and even up to one or two days after birth. This can cause hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels) in the baby. Hypoglycaemia is more likely to occur if babies are born early or if they are very small or large. Your baby could also have trouble with feeding, breathing or other medical problems.

Blood glucose levels close to the target range during pregnancy and labour, reduces these risks to your newborn baby.