Could I Have Gestational Diabetes?

Author: Shannon Miller

Glucose level blood test

I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes late in my second trimester

Instantly, I was filled with fear and endless questions. Through talking with friends, nurses, physicians and dietitians my fear disappeared and I realized, while it was important to be proactive and control my blood sugar, it wasn’t something that I couldn’t handle.

Gestational Diabetes

…happens when hormones during pregnancy cause insulin resistance in the latter part of pregnancy.  A woman’s pancreas has to secrete 2-3 times more insulin than in the pre-pregnancy state. If the woman’s pancreas doesn’t do this she develops elevated blood sugar during pregnancy.

Gestational Diabetes shows up during your pregnancy and typically goes away after the baby is born. Women are tested between 24-36 weeks of pregnancy. This is the “glucose test” you hear about.

For the mother, Gestational Diabetes presents an increased risk of Type II diabetes later in life. The best ways to prevent this are weight control and regular physical exercise.

It is critical to talk to your doctor and a dietitian about how to handle your gestational diabetes as there can be harmful affects to you and your baby if left uncontrolled. Uncontrolled blood sugar can cause macrosomia or causing the baby to get too big. When your blood sugar is high the extra sugar crosses the placenta and the baby gets too many calories. Big babies are more difficult to deliver and can lead to the necessity of a C-section. Other complications include an increased risk of preeclampsia (a serious medical condition that can result in very high blood pressure, extreme fluid retention and loss of protein in urine)

If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes

It is important to listen to your physician and dietitian to know exactly what your specific needs are for the health of yourself, as well as, your baby. It will take some patience, planning and diligence on your part but it will all be worth it when you hold your healthy baby in your arms.

Typically you want to keep your carbohydrate intake consistent throughout the day.You’ll be given a meal plan or restricted diet and asked to get regular physical exercise each day. Maintaining a fit pregnancy has many benefits during pregnancy whether or not you have gestational diabetes. However, you will want to clear all exercise regimes with your personal physician.

Exercise

  • helps control your blood glucose levels
  • helps prepare your body for labor and delivery
  • prevents excess weight gain
  • relieves aches and pains
  • helps you sleep
  • helps treat constipation

You may be at risk for gestational diabetes if

  • you have a family history of diabetes
  • you are overweight
  • you had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
  • or you are on insulin resistant medication

In this case, you may benefit from early screening.

Keep a log of your daily glucose levels

If you have already been diagnosed with gestational diabetes make sure to keep a log of your daily glucose levels and bring these to each doctor’s visit. Don’t be afraid to call your physician or dietitian if you have concerns or questions. In addition, you want to be sure to get a follow up evaluation once the baby has arrived to make sure your blood sugar has returned to normal. Make sure to get screened for type II diabetes every 3 years and be sure to check with your doctor before attempting to get pregnant again.

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