Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy condition that combines high blood pressure and protein in your urine. If you have diabetes you are at higher risk of pre-eclampsia, especially if this is your first pregnancy or you have some nephropathy (kidney problem). Pre-eclampsia literally means 'before eclampsia'. If it is not treated, it can develop into a more dangerous condition known as eclampsia, which can cause convulsions or, in rare cases, the death of the mother or the baby. This is why it is important to spot the problem early and manage it safely.
The main symptoms of pre-eclampsia are raised blood pressure, combined with the presence of protein in the urine, but the symptoms of mild pre-eclampsia are often not obvious. This is why your healthcare team conduct routine blood pressure checks and urine tests during pregnancy.
If you have the following symptoms, contact your healthcare team straight away so they can do further tests and help you manage the condition safely:
- severe headache that doesn’t go away with simple painkillers
- problems with vision, such as blurring or flashing before the eyes
- severe pain just below the ribs
- heartburn that doesn’t go away with antacids
- swelling of the face, hands or feet
- feeling very unwell.
Treatment may include bed rest and medication to reduce your blood pressure. If you have severe pre-eclampsia, you may need to have an emergency caesarean.
"Today, my children are both really healthy – physically and mentally. If you were going to make any comparisons, you wouldn't think anything different had happened to them than any other baby." Nadia, mum of two
There are two particular medical conditions associated with diabetes that can worsen during pregnancy: retinopathy (eye problems) and nephropathy (kidney problems).
Macrosomia is a difficulty associated with diabetes – in which the baby is large for their gestational age, often weighing more than 4.5kg at birth.
If you have type 1 or 2 diabetes in pregnancy you will get extra care.
You will need to manage your type 1 or 2 diabetes in pregnancy by checking your blood glucose levels and adjusting your treatment according to the results.
Women with type 1 or 2 diabetes are at higher risk of some complications but the majority have normal pregnancies and healthy babies. There is much you can do to reduce the risks, for you and baby.
Many women with type 1 or 2 diabetes go on to have a healthy birth. But you are at higher risk of complications so your healthcare team will have recommendations for the birth of your baby.
If you have type 1 or 2 diabetes, you should to talk to your healthcare team if you are thinking about having a baby. There are some things you can do now to make your upcoming pregnancy safer.
The fact that you have type 1 or 2 diabetes in pregnancy does not mean that your baby will get it as a child. But they will have an increased risk of getting it later due to genetics.
Information and support for type 1 or 2 diabetes in pregnancy
ℹLast reviewed on September 1st, 2015. Next review date September 1st, 2017.