HEALTH & FITNESS

Diabetics, labor and delivery

DiabetesHealthHealth OrganizationsDiseases and IllnessesU.S. Centers for Disease Control and PreventionNational Institutes of Health

Controlling blood sugar is crucial as a diabetic woman prepares to give birth. Uncontrolled levels could cause high blood pressure, which could lead to early birth. It also could cause seizures or a stroke in the woman during labor and delivery, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some key points as your due date approaches:


  • Your insulin needs will drop at the start of active labor. You likely will not need any insulin during labor and for 24 to 72 hours after delivery, according to the American Diabetes Association.

  • Some women take both insulin and glucose, as well as fluids, through an IV during labor so levels are better controlled. If you use an insulin pump, you might continue to use it throughout labor.

  • Out-of-control blood sugar throughout the pregnancy will likely mean the baby will be extra large, which could lead to nerve damage to the baby from pressure on the baby’s shoulder during delivery, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Most women with diabetes have the option of delivering naturally, but some doctors prefer to deliver babies of diabetics one or two weeks before their due dates to lower risk, according to the National Institutes of Health. Your doctor may recommend inducing labor before your due date or delivering the baby by cesarean section.

  • If you are having a C-section, your blood glucose levels may increase because of the stress of surgery. Your medical team will closely monitor your levels and will likely use an IV for insulin and glucose for better control.

  • Because of the care needed for both mom and baby during and after delivery, home births are not advised for women with diabetes.
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