Pregnancy can be an emotional experience for anyone, even if they are completely healthy. It’s completely understandable to feel anxious if your pregnancy is a bit more complicated.
Extra stress is bad for your emotional health, but it can also make diabetes symptoms worse. For example, stress can cause high blood sugar (hyperglycaemia). So it’s important that you try to take care of your mental health as well your physical health.
Try to remember that around 1 in 20 women who give birth in the UK every year either have diabetes before they get pregnant or develop diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes). Most of these women will have healthy pregnancies and babies if their condition is managed well.
You’ll also have a lot of extra care and support throughout your pregnancy and labour to manage and reduce the risks for you and your baby.
Be kind to yourself
Try to be kind to yourself and recognise that you have a lot on your plate. Try to find ways to relax and accept any help from your partner, if you have one, as well as friends and family.
We have a lot of information about how to look after your mental wellbeing during pregnancy.
You may also find it helpful to chat to other mums-to- be, perhaps during antenatal classes. Your health professional may also be able to tell you about antenatal groups especially for women with diabetes.
You can also talk to people online. Diabetes UK have a forum about diabetes and pregnancy.
"In my second pregnancy, I went to a special diabetes antenatal group run by my hospital so that was really good because you could talk to other people who were in a similar boat. It was nice to be with other people in the same situation."
If you are feeling very low, anxious or stressed about things, it’s important to ask for help. Talk to your midwife or GP how you feel. They can help you find ways to look after your emotional health, including getting extra help and treatment if you need it.
You won’t be judged for how you feel. You’ll have a lot on your mind during pregnancy. Coping with your symptoms and changing lifestyle, as well as everyday life, can sometimes be overwhelming.
You can also speak to our midwives on our pregnancy line on 0800 014 7800 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm), or email us at [email protected].
Getting help from family and friends
If you have a partner or close friends and family, try to involve them in understanding how diabetes affects your pregnancy and vice versa. For example, you may find it harder to tell when your blood sugar level is getting low (hypoglycaemia or having a hypo) while you’re pregnant. So it may help you feel safer and more relaxed if you tell them about things like hyperglycaemia and hypoglycaemia, how they can recognise the signs, and who they need to contact if you need help.
It can be hard to take in everything at every appointment. It may help to bring someone with you who can listen and take notes. Your partner, a family member or a friend may be able to support you and perhaps speak for you if you are having difficulty getting your point across.
Share your thoughts and fears
In general, pregnancy is a good time to share what you are going through with the people close to you. You may not have talked much about your diabetes before, but the extra appointments, tests and challenges in managing your sugar levels may take their toll. Talking it through with someone may make things a little easier.
If you’ve been prescribed insulin, you’ll need to give yourself this as an injection. You’ll be given an insulin pen.
Labour and birth may be different from what you had imagined, but it can still be a positive experience. Talk to your healthcare team about what your options are.
You may be able to use diet and exercise alone to keep your blood glucose levels within safe limits during pregnancy.
The treatment you were using to manage your diabetes before you became pregnant may change during pregnancy. If you were using tablets, you may have to start using insulin.
If you have type 1 or 2 diabetes, managing your blood glucose levels can now be much harder in pregnancy. Testing is an important part of self-care.
If you are treated with insulin in pregnancy, by the third trimester your insulin requirements are likely to be much higher than they were before.
If you have type 1/2 diabetes in the first trimester you will be referred to the joint diabetes and antenatal clinic.
By the second trimester, as your baby grows and starts to kick, you may need more insulin. Your medication and insulin needs will be regularly reviewed with you.
NHS Choices. Hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar level) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-blood-sugar-hyperglycaemia/ (Page last reviewed: 08/08/2018 Next review due: 08/08/2021)
NICE (2015). Diabetes in pregnancy: management from preconception to the postnatal period. National Institute for health and care excellence https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng3
The Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (February 2017) Maternal Mental Health – Women’s Voices https://www.rcog.org.uk/globalassets/documents/patients/information/maternalmental-healthwomens-voices.pdfHide details
ℹLast reviewed on July 20th, 2020. Next review date July 20th, 2023.