It isn’t very common, but many women are concerned about gestational diabetes in pregnancy. In reality, gestational diabetes only affects about 135,000 women, or 4% of pregnancies a year. What is it? Should you be concerned if your doctor or midwife tells you that you have it?
To start, during the second trimester, normally around your 23rd week of pregnancy your doctor will give you a blood test to determine your blood glucose level. This number is what tells the doctor if you have gestational diabetes or not. Gestational diabetes is caused by your body not being able to create and use all the insulin it needs for the pregnancy. Without insulin, glucose can not leave the body and it builds up to high levels. This is called hyperglycemia.
The risk to your baby from gestational diabetes is not as severe as the risk to your baby if you have diabetes prior to getting pregnant. Because your baby is done forming by the time gestational diabetes begins, birth defects are not probable, but there are other problems that may occur. As glucose can go through the placenta to the baby it gives an excess energy supply to your baby. Since your baby doesn’t need the extra energy, the energy from the glucose is changed into fat, which results in a large birth weight for your baby. Having an overweight baby at birth can lead to problems when it travels down the birth canal, including possible shoulder injuries, and breathing problems. It can also lead to overweight children, and children who develop type 2 diabetes as adults.
If your doctor tells you that you have gestational diabetes you should start treatment immediately. Treatment includes a special diet and meal plans designed to keep the sugar levels down. It also includes exercise and physical activity. Treatment helps you to avoid a c-section because of a too-large baby, while it also gives you a chance for a healthy pregnancy and birth, and a healthy baby.
Happily, gestational diabetes appears during pregnancy and normally goes away after you deliver your baby. However, once you develop gestational diabetes, you have a very good chance of getting it again in subsequent pregnancies. Having gestational diabetes can also lead to the possibility of your having type 2 diabetes later in life. There are certain things you may be able to do to help avoid either of these conditions.
- Lose weight
- Get Regular exercise
- Maintain a healthy nutrition
If your doctor tells you that you have gestational diabetes, don’t panic! With early diagnosis, you’ll be able to make changes to your diet and lifestyle, and properly take care of yourself and your unborn baby.
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