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How can I give birth safely if I have diabetes?

As your due date nears, your doctors will study your health and that of your growing baby if you have diabetes. Then, you and the team will discuss the best time and method for delivery. To determine the safest time and method to deliver your baby, your health care team will examine a variety of factors: blood glucose control, blood pressure, kidney function, and any diabetes complications you may have. The team will also study your baby's size and movements, his or her heart-rate pattern and the amount of amniotic fluid in the uterus.

Your labor may start on its own, or you may decide to have labor induced or have a planned cesarean section (C-section). During a cesarean birth, an incision is made through the abdomen and uterus, through which the baby is removed. Because of the surgery, your recovery time may be longer than if you delivered your baby vaginally.

No matter how you deliver your baby, your doctors will be working during labor and delivery to keep your blood glucose level under control. At the start of active labor, your insulin needs will drop. You will most likely not need any insulin during labor and for 24 to 72 hours after delivery. Your blood glucose will be checked frequently (probably every few hours) and your insulin and glucose regimen will be tailored to your needs during that time.

To help you prepare for labor, many hospitals and other organizations offer classes (such as Lamaze) to help you have a smooth delivery. They teach you what to expect during delivery, techniques to improve delivery and to relieve pain during labor, and how to care for your baby after birth. Because of the care needed for both mom and baby during and after delivery, home births are not advised for women with diabetes.

It's important to have a partner or coach helping you throughout the labor and delivery process. This can be a spouse, parents, relative, or friend. Having a support system with you before and during the birth can help you be more relaxed during your time at the hospital.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.