Pregnancy and Diabetes

Sad But True

I will never forget one specific day in nursing school. I was assisting with a woman in labor and the fetal heart rate kept climbing. I went to the Charge Nurse repeatedly to report my findings and she said “Okay.” as she sat quietly and read a magazine. Although I continually prodded her to take action, she did not. After a couple of hours, that baby was stillborn. The nurse was fired and appropriate legal action ensued. I had done the right thing but she had not. She was a nurse with an advanced degree and she did nothing to intervene in this situation. That was a long time ago and even as a student nurse, I knew that the mother and the baby were at risk when I read the chart. The mother was diabetic and as a result of the elevated blood sugar, the baby had grown excessively to 11 pounds. There wasn’t enough room for the baby to move around during labor and the cord had gotten wrapped around his neck which led to suffocation.


  • Women with uncontrolled diabetes have a higher risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Managing your blood sugar reduces this risk but when blood sugar is uncontrolled, there is a greater risk of both.
  • Premature birth- Women with diabetes are more likely to go into preterm labor.
  • Birth defects are more common in diabetic mothers. Close regulation of the blood sugar before and during early pregnancy greatly reduces the risk of birth defects, especially those of the brain, spine and heart.
  • Excess fetal growth-Persistently high blood sugar levels allows extra glucose to cross the placenta and that can cause the baby to be much larger than usual. When the baby is too big it makes a vaginal delivery difficult, increasing the likelihood of a cesarean delivery and increases the risk of the baby being injured during birth.
  • Urinary Tract Infections and yeast infections are more common in diabetic mothers. Achieving a stable blood sugar can help you to avoid these conditions and help to protect you from kidney disease.
  • Hypoglycemia can develop in the newborn baby of a diabetic mother because the baby may be producing too much insulin in utero. Good blood sugar management can help prevent this and also help ensure that the baby has healthy calcium and magnesium levels. (1)


If you are diabetic, work with your doctor to develop a plan for a healthy pregnancy. If you are not diabetic, take action to avoid becoming diabetic, especially if you are planning on having a baby. Adult-onset diabetes, or Type 2, is considered preventable. Lose excess weight, get active and eat a healthy diet that consists of whole foods. Avoid added sugars, other simple carbs and processed foods that supply low quality nutrition. Always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Go to our Home Page to get started on the road to being healthy. Being overweight or obese is also linked to gestational diabetes that can occur during pregnancy because your body can’t make enough insulin to accommodate the changes of the pregnancy. Gaining too much weight during pregnancy can also contribute to the formation of this dangerous disease. While there may be a genetic tendency to develop gestational diabetes, maintaining a healthy weight before and after conception, eating well and exercising regularly can all reduce the risk.


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