When you’re pregnant, there are a lot of extra worries and things you can’t do… or eat… or drink. Then you might get midway through the pregnancy and add another stressor to the list: you have gestational diabetes. This can be especially scary if you don’t have a history of diabetes and have never dealt with it.
Even though it is unfortunate, take heart because you can make some adjustments and still have a healthy pregnancy and baby.
What causes gestational diabetes?
About 10 percent of all pregnant women are diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
What causes it?
Well, scientists and doctors know some of what causes it, but it’s still a little bit of a mystery as to why it affects some women and not others. It can also be puzzling because a healthy woman, who has no blood sugar issues when she’s not pregnant, can get it during pregnancy, but then be back to normal soon afterward.
We know that during pregnancy, your hormones can sometimes block insulin or not make enough insulin. Both of these things can lead to a build-up of glucose in your blood, which then can lead to hyperglycemia and gestational diabetes.
What are the symptoms of gestational diabetes?
Even if a pregnant woman has gestational diabetes, she often doesn’t know it until she does a glucose test. This is because symptoms are usually very mild and can easily go unnoticed. The only common symptoms that some pregnant women with gestational diabetes notice are that they are more thirsty and have to urinate more frequently (but don’t all pregnant women?).
The real thing to take note of is whether or not your immediate family has a history of diabetes. If they do, then it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor and watch your sugar intake from the beginning of your pregnancy all the way through. If not, all pregnant women do a glucose test midway through pregnancy, so you’ll be able to find out then if you have gestational diabetes.
Can you treat gestational diabetes?
If you do have gestational diabetes, there are a couple of different treatment options. The preferred option (if you have a more mild form) is to treat it with a change in diet and increased exercise. It’s important to work with an experienced OB to figure out a plan that will keep you and your baby safe.
However, sometimes diet and exercise aren’t quite enough. In more severe causes, pregnant women with gestational diabetes have to change their diet and exercise, but also take daily medication.
The most important thing is to keep your blood sugar levels stable so that you and your baby are not negatively affected.
How can gestational diabetes affect my baby?
If gestational diabetes is managed well during pregnancy, then most likely your baby will not be highly affected. If it’s not, then there are several complications that can happen to your baby:
- Preterm birth (and all the possible complications that go with it)
- Higher risk of C-section because of too much weight gain
- Respiratory distress syndrome (difficulty breathing) after birth
- Higher risk of being hypoglycemic
- Higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes as an adult
Talk to an experienced doctor about gestational diabetes
If you’re worried about developing gestational diabetes or if you already have it, make sure you talk to a knowledgeable obstetrician about your health throughout your pregnancy. Together, you can come up with a plan to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible.