This is caused by the mother’s high blood glucose levels transferring across to the baby. The baby then produces more insulin to deal with the high blood glucose levels, which can make them grow larger than normal - especially around the shoulder, chest and abdomen.
The likelihood of this is fairly high – almost half of pregnancies for women with Type 1 diabetes and almost a quarter of those with Type 2 result in babies that are large for gestational age.
This can affect labour and birth in women who have diabetes, increasing the risk of shoulder dystocia – in which there is difficulty delivering the baby’s shoulders after the head has been born. This requires some additional manoeuvres at birth to help the baby out. Your midwife can explain these to you.
If there is delay at this point of labour, your baby may not be able to breathe. Because of this risk, you are more likely to have an assisted birth, induction or caesarean to get the baby out safely. In most cases of shoulder dystocia the baby is born promptly and safely.
If your baby has been producing extra insulin, then their blood glucose levels can drop too low soon after birth. Because of this, they need to be fed within 30 minutes after birth and at regular intervals, and their blood glucose levels will need to be monitored. Additional treatments such as tube feeding or IV dextrose treatment may be needed, and they may need to be cared for in a specialist baby unit in the hospital.
- NHS Choices. Gestational diabetes – complications,http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/gestational-diabetes/Pages/Complications.aspx.
- RCOG (2013) Shoulder dystocia: information for you, Royal college of obstetricians and gynaecologists, https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/patients/patient-informat...
If you have diabetes in pregnancy, you are at higher risk of pre-eclampsia.
There are two particular medical conditions associated with diabetes that can worsen during pregnancy: retinopathy (eye problems) and nephropathy (kidney problems).
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