Guide to Gestational Diabetes

What is it?

Who is at risk of developing gestational diabetes?

Effects of gestational diabetes?

Threatment

After the birth

What is an Gestational Diabetes?

Pregnant women who have never had diabetes before but who have high blood sugar (glucose) levels during pregnancy are said to have gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes (also called glucose intolerance of pregnancy) affects about 4% of all pregnant women – about 135,000 cases of gestational diabetes in the

United States each year. Gestational diabetes starts when your body is not able to make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy. Without enough insulin, glucose cannot leave the blood and be changed to energy. Glucose builds up in the blood to high levels. This is called hyperglycemia.

Who is at risk of developing gestational diabetes?

The following are people who are at risk of developing gestational diabetes, it is not definite that they will develop the problem and likewise there are others who do not fit into any of the following categories but could still develop diabetes during pregnancy.
If there is a family history of diabetes in parents or brothers and sisters.
Gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy.
The presence of a birth defect in a previous pregnancy.
Obesity in the woman, BMI greater than 29.
Older maternal age (over the age of 30).
Previous stillbirth or spontaneous miscarriage.
A previous delivery of a large baby (greater than 9 pounds).
A history of pregnancy induced high blood pressure, urinary tract infections, hydramnios (extra amniotic fluid), etc.
Women of Hispanic, First Nations, or of African-American decent.

Effects of gestational diabetes?

High sugar levels in your blood can be unhealthy for both you and your baby. If the diabetes isn’t treated, your baby may be more likely to have problems at birth. For example, your baby may have a low blood sugar level or jaundice, or your baby may weigh much more than is normal. Gestational diabetes can also affect your health. For instance, if your baby is very large, you may have a more difficult delivery or need a cesarean section.
Untreated or poorly controlled gestational diabetes can hurt your baby. When you have gestational diabetes, your pancreas works overtime to produce insulin, but the insulin does not lower your blood glucose levels. Although insulin does not cross the placenta, glucose and other nutrients do. So extra blood glucose goes through the placenta, giving the baby high blood glucose levels. This causes the baby’s pancreas to make extra insulin to get rid of the blood glucose. Since the baby is getting more energy than it needs to grow and develop, the extra energy is stored as fat. This can lead to macrosomia, or a “fat” baby. Babies with macrosomia face health problems of their own, including damage to their shoulders during birth

Treatment

A cure for Diabetes has not been found yet. However, it can be controlled. You will need to follow a diet suggested by your doctor, exercise regularly and have blood tests to check your blood sugar level. You may also need to take medicine to control your blood sugar level. You should avoid eating foods that contain a lot of simple sugar, such as cake, cookies, candy or ice cream. Instead, eat foods that contain natural sugars, like fruits. If you get hungry between meals, eat foods that are healthy for you, such as raisins, carrot sticks, or a piece of fruit. Complex sugars, which are found in foods like pasta, breads, rice, potatoes and fruit, are good for both you and your baby.
Exercise will help keep your blood sugar level normal, and it can also make you feel better. Walking is usually the easiest type of exercise when you are pregnant, but swimming or other exercises you enjoy work just as well. Ask your doctor to recommend some activities that would be safe for you. You do need to be careful about how you exercise. Don’t exercise too hard or get too hot while you are exercising. Ask your doctor what would be safe for you.

After the birth

Your baby may have a low blood sugar level or jaundice, or your baby may weigh much more than is normal. It may be several weeks after your baby’s birth before your gestational diabetes goes away. To make sure it has gone away, your doctor will ask you to have a special blood test one or two months after you have your baby. it makes you have a higher risk for diabetes in your next pregnancy and later in life.
While gestational diabetes is a cause for concern, the good news is that you and your health care team work together to lower your high blood glucose levels. And with this help, you can turn your concern into a healthy pregnancy for you, and a healthy start for your baby.