Today is Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017

Department of

Obstetrics and Gynecology

About High and Low Blood Sugar

High blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
High blood sugar may result if there is too much sugar in your blood. To maintain a healthy pregnancy, blood sugars must be kept in a range between 60-120 mg/dl. Keeping your blood sugars within normal limits will help you prevent problems for you and your unborn baby.

How will I feel if my blood sugars are high?
Signs and symptoms:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry skin
  • Urinating often

If your blood sugar is not treated, you may get very sick with signs and symptoms of ketoacidosis. Signs and symptoms of ketoacidosis are similar to high blood sugar. These signs and symptoms are: feeling extremely thirsty, a need to empty your bladder often, dry skin, hunger, blurred vision, feeling drowsy and wounds that heal slowly. There is an increased risk of fetal loss with ketoacidosis and your baby end up with a lower IQ after birth.

Please notify your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
Low blood sugar may result if you are taking medication to treat diabetes such as insulin if you forget to eat or exercise before eating or exercise more than usual.

How can I get low blood sugar?
Causes:

  • Too much medicine
  • Not enough food or snack
  • Skipping meals or snacks
  • Delayed meals or snacks
  • Too much exercise

How will I feel when I have low blood sugar?
Signs and symptoms:

  • Feeling shaky
  • Dizziness
  • 'Feeling anxious or irritable
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Weakness or feeling tired
  • Headache
  • Numbness or tingling around the mouth

How will diabetes affect me?
Problems that may occur for pregnant women with diabetes may include: an unexpected miscarriage, high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia) pre-term labor (PTL) and delivery, too much amniotic fluid around the baby (polyhydraminos), a kidney infection and/or cesarean birth. If you develop severe nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (hyperemesis) when you have diabetes, you may become severely dehydrated, which may harm you and your unborn baby.

The good news for women who develop diabetes during pregnancy is that the diabetes will most likely go away after you give birth. However, you will have a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. You may also develop gestational diabetes if you become pregnant again. You can lower your risk by reaching and maintaining your ideal body weight (IBW) and by walking or by doing some other form of exercise that you enjoy.

How will diabetes affect my baby?
High blood sugar during pregnancy can cause problems for your baby while you are pregnant and after you give birth. The effects of high blood sugar for your baby may result in birth defects if you have uncontrolled blood sugars before getting pregnant and during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Uncontrolled blood sugars during the last trimester for any pregnant woman with diabetes may result in a large baby making it difficult to give birth, and delayed lung maturity making it difficult for your baby to breathe after birth. Additionally, after birth your baby may have low blood sugars, a high bilirubin (jaundice), elevated red blood cells, and learning disabilities.

You can lower these risks by following a healthy meal plan, taking your medicine and following instructions from members of our diabetes and pregnancy healthcare team. Additionally, choosing to breastfeed your baby may help reduce your risk of developing certain kinds of cancers and the risks of childhood diabetes and obesity.

What should I do if my blood sugar might be low?

  • Sit down and ask for help.
  • Test your blood sugar. If your blood sugar is less than 60, eat or drink 15 grams of carbohydrate or take 3 glucose tablets. If your blood sugar is less than 40, drink 8 ounces (1 cup) of juice.
  • Retest your blood sugar in 15 minutes. If you blood sugar has not increased by at least 20 points, take another grams of carbohydrate.
  • Repeat step 2 and 3 until your blood sugar is greater than 60, two or more times.
  • Continue to monitor how you feel and retest your blood sugar if needed.

The following foods have about 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates:

  • ½ cup juice
  • 3-4 glucose tablets (with water)
  • 1 tablespoon jam or jelly (not diet)
  • 1 tube glucose gel
  • 1/2 cup regular soda (not diet)
  • 6 Life Savers
  • 1/3 cup regular Jell-O (not diet)
  • 4 Starbursts
  • 1 Tbsp. honey or sugar

Always consult your personal physician about your plan of care. The above information is for educational purposes only and is not to be used for individual treatment or diabetes self-management recommendations.

CARE/Crawley Building

More Information

For more information on the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, please contact us at:

Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine
Medical Sciences Building
231 Albert Sabin Way
Mail Location 0526
Cincinnati, OH 45267-0526

Key Contact:
Linda Oakes
Executive Secretary
oakesl@ucmail.uc.edu