Managing Preexisting Illnesses During Pregnancy

In This Article:

Diabetes and epilepsy

Whether you have a preexisting medical condition, or acquire an illness or infection during pregnancy, always consult your doctor before taking medication or before stopping any prescribed medication.

If you have a condition such as high blood pressure or diabetes prior to pregnancy, your pregnancy will be classified as high risk and you'll need to be monitored carefully. If you become pregnant while taking medication for a condition, don't stop taking the medication, but consult your doctor as soon as possible. You may find that your existing medication is safe, or you may need to change to another type of medication. The most important thing is to control your condition during pregnancy to minimize the risks to you and your baby, which will usually mean continuing with medication.


If you have diabetes and are planning to conceive, you need to get advice on how to manage your condition. Meet with your doctor while you're thinking about conceiving to discuss the best way to control your blood sugar levels and talk about how diabetes will be managed in pregnancy. Women with diabetes are advised to take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid before trying to conceive and for the first three months of pregnancy. Diabetic women who are overweight may be advised to lose weight before getting pregnant, and they'll likely be told to monitor their blood sugar more frequently and take their medications on time during their pregnancy. Babies born to diabetic women also have a greater risk of other problems, such as having a large birth weight, respiratory problems at birth, jaundice, and low blood sugar at birth.

As soon as you're pregnant, you should be referred to an obstetrician who specializes in pregnancy and diabetes where you'll receive extra care. You will have more frequent prenatal visits, additional scans, and extra blood tests to monitor your blood sugars. You may need diabetes medication and/or insulin injections each day; the dose usually changes throughout pregnancy and needs to be monitored. The better your blood sugar control, the less likely you or your baby is to experience problems during pregnancy.

Since diabetic women have an increased risk of late pregnancy problems such as preeclampsia and premature labor, you may be advised to have an induction of labor a week or so before your due date .

Once in labor, your blood sugar levels will be closely monitored, and you will probably be given an insulin IV. After the birth, your baby's blood sugar levels will be closely monitored too for around 24 hours. If you're planning to breast-feed, which is recommended, your insulin dose may need to be changed after the birth.


If you have epilepsy, it's very important to discuss pregnancy with your doctor before you become pregnant, since certain drugs carry a small risk of causing harm to the developing baby. Nonetheless, it's also important that your epilepsy is controlled, so your doctor will try to ensure that you're on the lowest possible dose of medication before you get pregnant. When you are pregnant, the anomaly scan at around 20 weeks will check for problems such as cleft palate, which are slightly more common with certain medications. If your condition worsens in pregnancy, contact your doctor.

Systemic lupus erythematosus

This is an autoimmune disorder that can affect many parts of the body, including the kidneys, joints, skin, nervous system, heart, and lungs. The condition is more common in women, and particularly in those of childbearing age. Some women find that the symptoms for this condition ease during pregnancy, however for some they can worsen. It's important to control the condition during pregnancy since it can affect the developing baby, with an increased risk of miscarriage, poor growth, premature labor, and stillbirth. Most medications for lupus are safe to use during pregnancy, but some aren't, so you need to check with your doctor about whether you need to change your current medication. From around 32 weeks, your baby will be closely monitored and his growth and well-being will be checked. If there are concerns about you or your baby, labor may be induced early, or you may have a planned cesarean.

Insulin injection in leg

Diabetes is controlled with daily insulin injections in pregnancy. As the skin on your abdomen becomes taut, you may find it easier to inject into the fatty tissue of the thigh.

 Previous   1   2   Next 

excerpted from:

Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
Buy this book now!

Pregnancy Day by Day

Tell us your due date to receive our daily newsletter and find out what is happening in this day of your pregnancy!

Already a member? Log-in here

Name of the Day

stay connected


10 Best Creative Apps for Kids
Looking for apps that foster creativity? Check out these top-rated art and music apps for kids.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

A New Intergalactic Reading Adventure!
Get your reluctant reader hooked on an irresistible new story, Galactic Hot Dogs! Join the Book 1 reading marathon, and get behind-the-scenes tidbits on the official Galactic Hot Dogs blog. Also, print this cool Galactic Hot Dogs reading log to keep your bookworm excited about reading!

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

© 2000-2015 Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.