Pre-pregnancy planning is essential for women with diabetes, the national charity, Diabetes Ireland, has said.
It is holding an information evening on September 20 for all women living with diabetes, who are of childbearing age, along with their partners. This includes women who may already have children.
The meeting aims to provide information on the steps women need to take prior to considering a pregnancy, as well as what to expect during and after pregnancy. It will also give women and their partners a chance to ask experts in this field any questions they may have.
The charity noted that while pregnancy is a happy time for many women, an unplanned pregnancy can pose particular risks to both mother and baby if the woman has diabetes.
"Having optimum diabetes control in the early stages of pregnancy is particularly crucial as it is in the first few weeks that the baby's vital organs develop. At this stage of pregnancy, a woman may not even know she is pregnant and therefore will not be taking any steps to reduce the health risks to herself and the baby," the charity noted.
Risks include high blood sugars in early pregnancy and taking potentially harmful medications. However for women with diabetes, the benefits of pre-pregnancy care are well recognised, leading to fewer adverse outcomes.
"Studies show that attendance at pre-pregnancy clinics is not universal and many women with type 1 and type 2 diabetes present with an unplanned pregnancy. The challenge is to get the message to women living with diabetes of the need to plan a pregnancy to ensure the best outcome for both mother and baby," explained Clair Naughton, a diabetes nurse specialist with Diabetes Ireland.
Meanwhile, the charity also noted that Ireland is currently seeing an increase in the number of women developing diabetes during pregnancy - known as gestational diabetes. The meeting aims to answer any questions people may have about this as well.
"Diabetes Ireland has brought together a range of quality speakers to address this very important issue and I would urge all women and their partners to attend this information evening, which is free of charge," Ms Naughton added.
The speakers at the meeting are:
-Consultant endocrinologist at the Mater Hospital and the National Maternity Hospital, Dr Mensud Hatunic
-Clinical nurse specialist at King's College London, Rita Forde, who is involved in research related to pre-pregnancy care for women with type 2 diabetes
-Dietitian, Hilary Devine, of the National Maternity Hospital.
A questions and answers session will follow.
The meeting takes place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Santry, Dublin, on Thursday, September 20, at 7.15pm. For more information, click here or call Diabetes Ireland on (01) 842 8118.
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