How Does Gestational Diabetes Develop
Your body makes a hormone called insulin to help keep your blood glucose at the right level. Your blood glucose levels become higher if your body doesnt make enough insulin or if your insulin does not work as well as it should.
During pregnancy, hormones are made by the placenta to help the baby develop and grow. These hormones, however, can stop the mothers insulin from working properly. This is called insulin resistance. As the pregnancy develops and the baby grows bigger, the mothers body has to make more insulin to keep her blood glucose in the recommended glucose range.
Later in pregnancy the amount of insulin needed to keep blood glucose levels in the optimal range is 2 to 3 times higher than usual. If the mother is unable to produce enough insulin to meet this demand then her blood glucose levels rise and gestational diabetes develops.
How Can Gestational Diabetes Affect Your Baby
Gestational diabetes develops in the mother late in pregnancy, after the baby has been formed, but before its done growing. If you find you have gestational diabetes, its important to follow your doctors instructions so you baby wont be affected.
Poorly treated, or untreated gestational diabetes can lead to macrosomia in the baby.
Babies with macrosomia face health problems of their own, including damage to their shoulders during birth. Because of the extra insulin made by the babys pancreas, newborns may have very low blood glucose levels at birth and are also at higher risk for breathing problems. Babies with excess insulin become children who are at risk for obesity and adults who are at risk for type 2 diabetes.
If I Have Gestational Diabetes How Will It Be Treated
Treating gestational diabetes comes down to one key factor: controlling your blood sugar. The goal is to manage your blood glucose level so that it doesnt go too high and stay high. This is accomplished by eating wisely, remaining physically active, and if needed taking medication to help keep your blood sugar levels in your target range.
The importance of treating gestational diabetes gained attention following the Hyperglycemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes trial, which demonstrated a direct link between continuous treatment of the maternal glucose levels and reducing negative outcomes.2
- Eating Wisely. Meals will require more thought, indeed a lot more thought, than must be necessary if you have gestational diabetes. Youll need to pay attention to what you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat. A registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator can help you create a meal plan thats full of good-for-you and good-for-the-baby foods. The goal of the meal plan is to make it easier to control your blood glucose level so it stays in your target range. Your meal plan will reflect your likes and dislikes, and will take into account your overall health and physical activity level.For more information on what goes into the meal plan and what you can eat, read our article on the healthy meal planning with diabetes.
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Symptoms Of Type 2 Diabetes
These tend to show up after your glucose has been high for a long time.
- Yeast infections. Both men and women with diabetes can get these. Yeast feeds on glucose, so having plenty around makes it thrive. Infections can grow in any warm, moist fold of skin, including:
- Between fingers and toes
- Under breasts
- In or around sex organs
See A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
If you dont already see a dietitian, you should start seeing one before you get pregnant. Your dietitian can help you learn what to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat to reach or stay at a healthy weight before you get pregnant. Together, you and your dietitian will create a meal plan to fit your needs, schedule, food preferences, medical conditions, medicines, and physical activity routine.
During pregnancy, some women need to make changes in their meal plan, such as adding extra calories, protein, and other nutrients. You will need to see your dietitian every few months during pregnancy as your dietary needs change.
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What Are The Signs Of Gestational Diabetes During Pregnancy
Youre pregnantand tired all thetime. Youre going to the bathroom almost constantly and you just cant drinkenough water. Many women feel extreme fatigue or the frequent urge to urinate whenpregnant. While these may be common complaints, these symptoms could be causedby a serious and underlying disorder that can harm both you and your baby.
Gestational diabetes is a type ofdiabetes that develops during pregnancy. Usually temporary, gestationaldiabetes occurs when your body stops producing insulin or doesnt respond toinsulin. The American Pregnancy Association says approximately 2 to 5 percent of pregnant women developgestational diabetes. That number jumps to 7 to 9 percent in mothers who mayhave risk factors.
Although gestational diabetes usually goes away after pregnancy, it can cause serious health risks like:
- Premature birth
- A higher risk of developing preeclampsia
- Higher birth weight of the baby
- Low blood sugar levels in the baby at birth
- A risk for higher blood pressure
While 2 to 5 percent doesnt soundhigh, scheduling prenatal care as soon as you discover you are pregnant isvital for your health and the health of your baby. At Walnut Hill, we offer all antenatal care including ultrasound available inall trimesters. For your peace of mind, we also offer non-invasive pregnancytesting for genetic errors .
How do you know if you havegestational diabetes? Read on to learn more.
Screening For Gestational Diabetes
During your first antenatal appointment at around week 8 to 12 of your pregnancy, your midwife or doctor will ask you some questions to determine whether you’re at an increased risk of gestational diabetes.
If you have 1 or more risk factors for gestational diabetes you should be offered a screening test.
The screening test is called an oral glucose tolerance test , which takes about 2 hours.
It involves having a blood test in the morning, when you have not had any food or drink for 8 to 10 hours . You’re then given a glucose drink.
After resting for 2 hours, another blood sample is taken to see how your body is dealing with the glucose.
The OGTT is done when you’re between 24 and 28 weeks pregnant. If you’ve had gestational diabetes before, you’ll be offered an OGTT earlier in your pregnancy, soon after your booking appointment, then another OGTT at 24 to 28 weeks if the first test is normal.
Find out more about an OGTT.
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Monitoring Your Blood Glucose Levels
Your medical team will give you a target range for your blood glucose levels. You will need to check these at home while you are pregnant.
You can purchase a blood glucose measuring kit from your local pharmacy or diabetes centre, or from Diabetes Australia in your state or territory call 1800 637 700 for help.
To test your blood glucose levels, you prick your finger with a lancet and put a small drop of blood onto a testing strip. Then you insert the strip into a meter, which reads your blood glucose level.
How Does Gestational Diabetes Affect The Baby
Your baby should be just fine as long as your gestational diabetes gets diagnosed and treated. Without taking action, the baby could have a high birth weight, be born prematurely, have a higher risk of c-section and higher risk of stillbirth. Those arent things you want to risk, so its really important to get proper treatment if youre diagnosed.
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Care Plans For Gestational Diabetes
If youre diagnosed with gestational diabetes, well probably ask you to come in more frequently so we can monitor your weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and your babys health. We may also recommend diet and exercise tips to make sure you stay within a healthy range as you go through your pregnancy.
Sometimes, you may need to take insulin to help regulate your blood sugar. Just remember, theres no reason to panic. You can deliver a healthy baby even though you have this condition.
If youre pregnant, its important to get prenatal care for the health of both you and your baby. Make an appointment to see Dr. Longoria by using the online booking tool or by calling our office in El Paso, Texas.
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Favorite Orgs For Essential Info On Gestational Diabetes
ACOG is the leading group of obstetricians and gynecologists dedicated to improving womens health. Learn about ways to manage gestational diabetes, how to track blood sugar levels, and steps you can take to have a healthy pregnancy from the experts who diagnose and treat the condition every day.
This project from the International Diabetes Federation , an umbrella organization of more than 240 diabetes associations in 168 countries, offers articles, as well as video guides on insulin, healthy eating, and blood glucose monitoring. You can also test your knowledge with interactive quizzes on topics such ashow to reduce your risk and how to manage gestational diabetes with diet and exercise.
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How To Manage Diabetes During Pregnancy
At this point, you might be wondering how to treat gestational diabetes.
Diabetic symptoms can be managed easily by making a few lifestyle changes. According to a 2010 research published in the International Journal of Womens Health, the common advice to manage diabetic symptoms during pregnancy is medical nutrition therapy.
In other words, you have to be mindful of calorie intake and opt for less sugary or fatty foods.
You may have noticed that most of the signs of gestational diabetes I mentioned above, conflict with the changes happening in your body at the time.
For example, pregnancy might trigger certain food cravings which would impact your blood sugar levels. This naturally puts you in a tricky spot.
So while you may want to entertain your needs during pregnancy , I also suggest following regular activities to curb the harmful effects.
Start by setting short milestones for your wellbeing. Dont overexert your body. For starters, a regular prenatal yoga routine could be a good practice, dont you think?
Here are some popular ways you can manage gestational diabetes naturally:
- Monitoring your glucose regularly
Problems Of Gestational Diabetes In Pregnancy
Blood sugar that is not well controlled in a woman with gestational diabetes can lead to problems for the pregnant woman and the baby:
An Extra Large Baby
Diabetes that is not well controlled causes the babys blood sugar to be high. The baby is overfed and grows extra large. Besides causing discomfort to the woman during the last few months of pregnancy, an extra large baby can lead to problems during delivery for both the mother and the baby. The mother might need a C-Section to deliver the baby. The baby can be born with nerve damage due to pressure on the shoulder during delivery.
A C-section is an operation to deliver the baby through the mothers belly. A woman who has diabetes that is not well controlled has a higher chance of needing a C-section to deliver the baby. When the baby is delivered by a C-section, it takes longer for the woman to recover from childbirth.
High Blood Pressure
When a pregnant woman has high blood pressure, protein in her urine, and often swelling in fingers and toes that doesnt go away, she might have preeclampsia. It is a serious problem that needs to be watched closely and managed by her doctor. High blood pressure can cause harm to both the woman and her unborn baby. It might lead to the baby being born early and also could cause seizures or a stroke in the woman during labor and delivery. Women with diabetes have high blood pressure more often than women without diabetes.
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Five Tips To Start Eating Better With Gestational Diabetes
Bissell recommends trying these five tips to get on the road to eating healthier:
- Plan ahead: Think about your upcoming week and jot down a simple meal plan and grocery list to prevent last-minute food decisions because they usually result in less healthy choices.
- Chop, chop: Pre-portion or chop up fruits and vegetables when you get home from the store to make them easier to grab when you need a snack.
- Buy frozen: Stock your freezer with frozen vegetables. Even if the fresh veggies you picked out for the week go bad, you always have options.
- Drink up: Carry a water bottle with you to stay hydrated.
- Balance your meals: Eat protein and vegetables with each meal and snack. Aim for three meals a day with snacks in between as needed.
Types Of Gestational Diabetes Tests
There are two main gestational diabetes tests given during pregnancy: the glucose challenge test and the glucose tolerance test. Youll definitely get one but may end up getting both. Heres the scoop:
- Glucose Challenge Test: The glucose challenge test is a screening test, meaning it tells doctors if you have signs of gestational diabetes. For this 1-hour glucose test, youll drink a sweet Gatorade-like drink called glucola, then wait an hour and have your blood drawn. If your blood sugar level is high, it can be a sign of gestational diabetes, so youll likely get a follow-up test.
- Glucose Tolerance Test: The glucose tolerance test is the follow-up test that can diagnose gestational diabetes, but some women take this one from the start. For the glucose tolerance test, you have to fast for eight hours before the test. Youll have your blood taken when you arrive, and then at 1 hour, at 2 hours and then at 3 hours. So that means four blood draws and 11 total hours of no eating. If two or more of the blood samples from your glucose tolerance test have high levels of glucose, youll be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
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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.
Experts Answers For Readers Questions
Will gestational diabetes affect my baby?
Yes, gestational diabetes can affect the baby. It increases their risk of developing diabetes later in life.
Can I eat bananas with gestational diabetes?
You can eat bananas in moderation if you have gestational diabetes.
Can you get rid of gestational diabetes while pregnant?
If you have never had diabetes, are not obese or overweight, or do not have a family history of diabetes, you can get rid of diabetes through lifestyle changes while pregnant.
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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.
Is There Anything I Should Be Afraid Of
If gestational diabetes is diagnosed and treated effectively, there is little risk of complications. In such cases, women with gestational diabetes can have healthy babies, and diabetes should disappear after delivery.
However, if it is not treated, effects on the mother and baby can include:
- Large birth weight -those who weigh 9 pounds or more are more likely to become wedged in the birth canal, have birth injuries or need a cesarean delivery.
- Premature delivery an early delivery may be recommended because the baby is large.
- Respiratory distress syndrome babies born early to mothers with gestational diabetes may experience Serious breathing difficulties.
- Low blood sugar sometimes babies of mothers with gestational diabetes have low blood sugar shortly after birth. Severe episodes of hypoglycemia may cause seizures in the baby. Prompt feedings and sometimes an intravenous glucose solution can return the babys blood sugar level to normal.
- Obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life. Babies of mothers who have gestational diabetes have a higher risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life.
- Stillbirth. Untreated gestational diabetes can result in a babys death either before or shortly after birth.
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Gestational Diabetes And Type 2 Diabetes Link
Having gestational diabetes increases your risk of developing it again in future pregnancies. It also increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes after giving birth. And it also increase the risk of your child becoming overweight and going on to develop type 2 diabetes as an adult. But there are lots of things you can do to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes including breastfeeding your baby.