What You Can Do To Prevent Gestational Diabetes
If your only risk factors for gestational diabetes are a family history of the disease and/or advanced maternal age, there may be nothing more you can do to prevent your chances of developing the condition.
But if you’re overweight, don’t eat a well-balanced diet or don’t routinely exercise, adopting a few healthy habits can make a big difference.
The following steps can have a big impact on reducing your risk of developing both gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes, both before you conceive and during your pregnancy:
How Is Gestational Diabetes Mellitus Diagnosed
The American Diabetes Association recommends screening for undiagnosed type 2 diabetes at the first prenatal visit in women with diabetes risk factors. In pregnant women not known to have diabetes, GDM testing should be performed at 24 to 28 weeks of gestation.
In addition, women with diagnosed GDM should be screened for persistent diabetes 6 to 12 weeks postpartum. It is also recommended that women with a history of GDM undergo lifelong screening for the development of diabetes or prediabetes at least every three years.
Key Points About Diabetes During Pregnancy
Diabetes is a condition in which the body can’t produce enough insulin, or it can’t use it normally.
There are 3 types of diabetes: Type 1, tType 2, and gestational diabetes.
Nearly all pregnant women without diabetes are screened for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.
Treatment for diabetes focuses on keeping blood sugar levels in the normal range.
Women with gestational diabetes are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes in later life. Follow-up testing is important.
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Favorite App For Gestational Diabetes
This app acts as a reliable companion to aid management of gestational diabetes. It can help you analyze dips and rises in your blood sugar readings, offers education about blood sugar management, and facilitates connecting you virtually with a certified diabetes care and education specialist. MySugr is free on Android and iOS with in-app purchases available.
For more of our favorite diabetes apps, check out our list.
Prognosis Of Gestational Diabetes
However, women who have had gestational diabetes are at an increased risk of getting it again during future pregnancies and are also at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes later in life. For this reason, its important for women who have had gestational diabetes to have their blood glucose levels regularly checked even after pregnancy.
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Duration Of Gestational Diabetes
Diabetes that appears during pregnancy typically goes away right after delivery, but that is not always the case.
For true gestational diabetes it should resolve immediately after birth, since the insulin resistance is driven by the metabolic and hormonal changes in pregnancy, says Emily Fay, MD, a maternal-fetal-medicine specialist at UW Medicine, who helps run the Diabetes in Pregnancy Program there. However, sometimes when we diagnose a woman with gestational diabetes in pregnancy, it is actually that she has pre-gestational diabetes that we diagnosed during pregnancy.
Pre-gestational diabetes is any diabetes arising prior to pregnancy, including type 1 and type 2 diabetes, as well as other more rare types of diabetes like medication-induced diabetes or Cystic Fibrosis-related diabetes. Pre-gestational diabetes will not resolve after delivery.
The way to tell whether the patient had gestational diabetes or pre-gestational diabetes, Dr. Fay explains, is by doing a glucose test at the postpartum visit. This allows your doctor to screen for pre-gestational diabetes and insulin resistance.
If you have pre-gestational diabetes that was diagnosed during pregnancy, your doctor will discuss a treatment plan with you. This may include diet and lifestyle modifications, and use of insulin or oral medications.
Gestational Diabetes And Pregnancy
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that is first seen in a pregnant woman who did not have diabetes before she was pregnant. Some women have more than one pregnancy affected by gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes usually shows up in the middle of pregnancy. Doctors most often test for it between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.
Often gestational diabetes can be controlled through eating healthy foods and regular exercise. Sometimes a woman with gestational diabetes must also take insulin.
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What Are Clinical Trials And Are They Right For You
Clinical trials are part of clinical research and at the heart of all medical advances. Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat disease. Researchers also use clinical trials to look at other aspects of care, such as improving the quality of life for people with chronic illnesses. Find out if clinical trials are right for you.
How To Diagnose Gestational Diabetes
A doctor gives a glucose screening test or glucose challenge. In this test, sweet syrup or liquid is given to the drink to increase blood sugar. After an hour blood test is done to see how the body managed the sugar. In case the test shows a higher sugar level than a certain point then an oral glucose tolerance test may be needed. In this test blood sugar is tested with no food given and having a 3-hour glucose test.
The average gestational diabetes blood sugar level typically is below 95 mg/dl before meals or 140 mg/dl an hour after a meal or 120 mg/dl two hours after a meal.
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What Are The Complications Of Gestational Diabetes
If your blood sugar levels remain high during your pregnancy, this may lead to pregnancy problems such as a large baby, miscarriage or stillbirth. Having a large baby can lead to complications and injury during the birth, and increase the chances of having intervention in labour such as a caesarean birth. But the baby will not be born with diabetes.
If you have gestational diabetes, you are at higher risk of developing high blood pressure while you are pregnant and a 50% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future. Your baby is also at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes in later life.
To reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes:
- keep to a healthy weight
- eat a healthy diet
- be physically active
- check your blood glucose levels
You can also call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 to speak to a maternal child health nurse for advice and support.
What Clinical Trials Are Open
Clinical trials that are currently open and are recruiting can be viewed at www.ClinicalTrials.gov.
This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.
The NIDDK would like to thank:Boyd E. Metzger, MD, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
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Long Term Effects For The Baby
Metabolic programming is a concept worth knowing.
Basically, youre programming the babys metabolism by what you eat.
Exposing the baby to high amounts of glucose without the insulin to counteract it means that their body is getting programmed by an ineffective process.
The result is that the baby is more likely to develop diabetes after birth, whether in infancy, childhood or adulthood.
In fact, 30% of children exposed to gestational diabetes in utero went on to have glucose issues in adolescence.
Its the same concept as if you were to feed your child candy and dessert all day. Youre programming the childs metabolism to react to high amounts of glucose , but they may not be able to produce enough insulin or their insulin may be ineffective.
Pregnancy If You Have Diabetes
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If you have diabetes and plan to have a baby, you should try to get your blood glucose levels close to your target range before you get pregnant.
Staying in your target range during pregnancy, which may be different than when you arent pregnant, is also important. High blood glucose, also called blood sugar, can harm your baby during the first weeks of pregnancy, even before you know you are pregnant. If you have diabetes and are already pregnant, see your doctor as soon as possible to make a plan to manage your diabetes. Working with your health care team and following your diabetes management plan can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
If you develop diabetes for the first time while you are pregnant, you have gestational diabetes.
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Treatment And Medication Options For Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes can be managed with close blood sugar monitoring, lifestyle changes, and in some cases, medication.
Monitor your blood sugar. If you have gestational diabetes, your doctor may ask you to monitor your blood sugar levels several times a day.
- Before a meal: 95 mg/dL or less
- One hour after a meal: 140 mg/dL or less
- Two hours after a meal: 120 mg/dL or less
Maintain a healthy diet. Unfortunately, gestational diabetes will not go away while still pregnant, because all those metabolic changes are still occurring that drive the insulin resistance, Fay explains. However, it can sometimes be controlled with diet alone.
She typically recommends a diet of 30 to 40 percent carbohydrates, and choosing those carbohydrates that are more slowly digested and less likely to cause blood sugar spikes. These foods tend to be high in fiber. For example, having whole wheat bread instead of white bread, or having whole fruit instead of fruit juice, Fay says. A certified diabetes care and education specialist and registered dietitian nutritionist, which you can find via the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists, can help you build a diabetes-friendly diet.
Get exercise. Talk to your doctor about the amount and level of physical activity that is right for you during your pregnancy. Faye typically recommends 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week for all her patients. Adding in a walk after meals can also help lower blood sugars, she says.
Long Term Affects Of Gestational Diabetes For Babies
âLong term risks for babies born from moms with gestational diabetes can include an increased risk of developing diabetes in the future, as well as increased risk of obesity,â Culwell says. Thereâs no guarantee that this will happen, of course, but itâs an important potential risk to be aware of.
Thankfully, even if you are diagnosed with gestation diabetes, experts agree that it is possible to mitigate potential problems for you and your baby. âAll of these risks are significantly decreased with good control of blood sugars â either with diet or medication â during pregnancy which is why testing for gestational diabetes and appropriate monitoring and treatment are so important,â Culwell tells Romper.
Remember, gestational diabetes is manageable. âIf you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, itâs best to speak to your doctor so that you can manage symptoms and reduce risk of harm to the unborn child,â Shepherd tells Romper. âThis typically includes exercise, eating healthy, and regularly testing your blood sugar levels.â
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Signs Of Gestational Diabetes
The main problem with high blood sugar during pregnancy is often there are no visible or apparent signs or symptoms that would alarm you to suspect anything.
However, women that have been diagnosed with this type of diabetes have noticed they are more thirsty than usual, and they urinate more frequently. So, if you notice this, theres a chance you may have a problem with high blood sugar.
Risks For Your Baby In Later Life
Many babies whose mothers had gestational diabetes have no related health problems. But research has suggested that your baby may be at greater risk of developing obesity and or diabetes in later life.
Again, there are things you can do to protect your childs health, such as encouraging them to eat a balanced diet, exercise and maintain a healthy weight.
Breastfeeding has long-term health benefits for your baby that last right into adulthood. For example, it can help reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes. Because breastfeeding is a natural experience, many new mums assume that they should be able to do it straightaway. In reality, it may come easily to some, but not others. Dont worry if this is the case for you, there is lots of support available. You can ask your midwife or health visitor for more information.
You can also encourage your baby to be active from an early age by having some tummy time. Tummy time means giving your baby some time every day lying on their tummy. It helps your baby to build the muscles they need for sitting, crawling and eventually, walking. Tummy time is also a great way to bond with your baby.
When you start giving your baby solid foods , try to introduce them to a varied diet.
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When To Call Your Doctor Or Midwife
When you have gestational diabetes, part of your job is to pay close attention to your health. Check in with your doctor when:
- You get sick and can’t follow your eating plan.
- You have symptoms of high blood sugar: trouble concentrating, headaches, increased thirst, blurred vision, or weight loss.
- You have symptoms of low blood sugar: anxiety, confusion, dizziness, headaches, hunger, racing pulse or pounding heart, feeling shaky or trembling, pale skin, sweating, or weakness.
- You tested your blood sugar at home, and itâs above or below your target range.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “FAQs on Gestational Diabetes,” “Committee Opinion on Screening and Diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus,” “Gestational Diabetes.”
American Diabetes Association: âGestational Diabetes,” “What is Gestational Diabetes?” “Prediabetes FAQs,” “How to Treat Gestational Diabetes.”
CDC: âDiabetes & Pregnancy,â âGestational Diabetes.â
Lucile Packard Childrenâs Hospital at Stanford: âInfant of Diabetic Mother.â
National Diabetes Education Program: âDid You Have Gestational Diabetes When You Were Pregnant?â
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: âWhat I Need to Know about Gestational Diabetes.â
Office on Womenâs Health: âDiabetes.â
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: “Am I at Risk for Gestational Diabetes?”
National Institutes of Health: “Am I at risk for gestational diabetes?”
Target Blood Glucose Levels During Pregnancy
Recommended daily target blood glucose numbers for most pregnant women with diabetes are
- Before meals, at bedtime, and overnight: 90 or less
- 1 hour after eating: 130 to 140 or less
- 2 hours after eating: 120 or less3
Ask your doctor what targets are right for you. If you have type 1 diabetes, your targets may be higher so you dont develop low blood glucose, also called hypoglycemia.
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Possible Complications For The Baby
Unlike type 1 diabetes, gestational diabetes generally occurs too late to cause birth defects. Birth defects usually originate sometime during the first trimester of pregnancy. The insulin resistance from the contra-insulin hormones produced by the placenta does not usually occur until approximately the 24th week. Women with gestational diabetes mellitus generally have normal blood sugar levels during the critical first trimester.
The complications of GDM are usually manageable and preventable. The key to prevention is careful control of blood sugar levels just as soon as the diagnosis of diabetes is made.
Infants of mothers with gestational diabetes are vulnerable to several chemical imbalances, such as low serum calcium and low serum magnesium levels, but, in general, there are two major problems of gestational diabetes: macrosomia and hypoglycemia:
Blood glucose is monitored very closely during labor. Insulin may be given to keep the mother’s blood sugar in a normal range to prevent the baby’s blood sugar from dropping excessively after delivery.
What Happens To The Baby If You Have Gestational Diabetes
If you have gestational diabetes and you do not control your blood sugar levels properly, it can affect the baby. The baby is prone to have high blood glucose levels that can cause complications in the delivery and afterward.
Infants that are born to diabetic mothers are usually larger in size than the normal babies. This causes hard delivery or often results in cesareans.
Besides that when the baby is born, he can have spells of hypoglycemia right after birth because during pregnancy the baby was used to get high sugar levels from the mother.
If you have gestational diabetes and you have not treated it properly your baby is exposed to have:
- Difficulty in breathing because of less mature lungs formation
- High red blood count that can thicken the blood
- High bilirubin level that can cause jaundice right after the birth
- Lethargy and sleepiness
- Trouble in feeding
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Supplement That Can Help With Insulin Resistance Created By Gestational Diabetes
Clinically developed to address the effects of insulin resistance, GLUCOZINE is the first and only blood sugar support medication. Insulin resistance occurs when the cells in your body no longer respond to insulin as it should. High blood sugar levels, weight gain, fatigue, and a slow metabolism are all signs of diabetes.
What Is Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes is a kind of diabetes that some women get during pregnancy. Its a condition in which your body has too much sugar in the blood.
When you eat, your body breaks down sugar and starches from food into glucose to use for energy. Your pancreas makes a hormone called insulin that helps your body keep the right amount of glucose in your blood. When you have diabetes, your body doesnt make enough insulin or cant use insulin well, so you end up with too much sugar in your blood. This can cause serious health problems, like heart disease, kidney failure and blindness.
Most pregnant women get tested for GDM at 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy. Most of the time it can be controlled and treated during pregnancy. If its not treated, GDM can cause problems for you and your baby. It usually goes away after you have your baby. But if you have GDM, youre at increased risk of developing diabetes later in life.
In the United States, 7 out of every 100 pregnant women develop gestational diabetes. Youre more likely than other women to have GDM if youre African-American, Native American, Asian, Hispanic or Pacific Islander.
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