Pregnancy

All About Gestational Diabetes

If you’re pregnant or have had a child, you probably remember the glucose test to measure your blood sugar and check for gestational diabetes. A condition that affects up to 10 percent of pregnant women each year in the United States, gestational diabetes causes high blood pressure and affects how your cells use sugar.

There is good news and bad news when it comes to gestational diabetes. The good news is that many women can manage it by eating well and exercising (and taking medication, if needed) to keep both mom and baby healthy. In most cases, blood sugar levels return to normal after delivery, however, it can lead to excessive birth weight and early delivery for babies as well as a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity later in life for moms.

November is National Diabetes Month and an important time to focus on education, treatment and awareness.

“The most important things you can do if you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes are to eat well and exercise regularly, as directed by your doctor,” said Dr. Pamela Jordi. “Gestational diabetes is treatable and we want to do everything we can to help our patients have a healthy pregnancy and delivery.”

When you are pregnant, your placenta produces hormones that cause glucose, a type of sugar, to build up in your blood. Typically, the pancreas can make enough insulin to handle this, but if your body isn’t producing enough insulin or using it as it should, then your blood sugar can spike.

While the signs of gestational diabetes are subtle (you might be hungrier/thirstier or need to urinate more often), your prenatal plan will likely include testing between 24-28 weeks of pregnancy. Risk factors include excess weight or high blood pressure, family members with diabetes, previous gestational diabetes or delivery of a baby 9 pounds or more, and lack of physical activity.

“The more healthy habits you adopt before and during pregnancy, the better. And if you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, it is important to take action right away,” Jordi added. “Treatment will help keep your blood sugars at a normal level and support you and your baby throughout your pregnancy.”

 

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