Gestational Diabetes

pregnant-woman103Gestational Diabetes – What is it, can I get it, and how should I treat it?

Gestational diabetes is a condition that develops only during pregnancy. Like normal diabetes, it means that your blood glucose levels are too high. It is usually diagnosed only late into a mothers pregnancy, and if treated it should be quite easy to control your blood glucose levels and keep both you and your baby safe for the duration of the pregnancy.

What are my chances of getting gestational diabetes?

Generally speaking you have a higher chance of developing gestational diabetes if:

  • You are too overweight
  • You have a history of diabetes or even just a history of gestational diabetes
  • You previously had a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds at birth
  • Have a history of diabetes in your family
  • You are of American Indian, Asian American, African American, Hispanic or Latina, or Pacific Islander American descent.
Is gestational diabetes dangerous for my baby?

If you do not get your glucose levels under control, and in the target range specified by your doctor, then gestational diabetes can be dangerous for your baby. Some of the problems that your baby may face are:

  • Macrosomia – A condition where a baby has a larger than normal body. This can also make delivery riskier.
  • Hypoglycemia – Your baby may be born having lower than normal blood glucose levels.
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome – Your baby may have difficulty breathing.
  • Jaundice – Your baby will have a higher than normal chance of developing jaundice.
  • Lastly as you baby grows, she will have a higher than normal chance of becoming overweight and developing type 2 diabetes.

While the risks above can seem overwhelming, it is important to understand that these are the risks that occur if you are unable to control your gestational diabetes’ blood glucose levels.

Following a simple treatment regime set by your doctor will make it very possible that your levels stabilize, thereby reducing the risk of all the above conditions.

How is gestational diabetes treated?

The only thing you can do to treat gestational diabetes is to keep you blood glucose levels within a target range (your doctor will tell you what your target range is).

There are three main things you can do to make sure that you are actively dealing with your condition:

1. Eat Healthily

Consult with a nutritionist and put together a healthy eating plan. Its important to make sure that you are selecting foods that are healthy for both you and your baby. A decent nutritionist will build a plan that you can continue following after birth, so that you and your family maintain a healthy eating lifestyle.

When it comes to any eating plan targeting sugar levels, what food you eat is just as important as how much you eat and in what intervals. Timing is vital when you are dealing with diabetes.

2. Get Active

Any physical activity can be a healthy and optimal way to reach your targets. After consulting with your doctor, put an exercise plan together. Try to be as active as possible, aiming for at least 30 minutes of light-to-moderate exercise each day. Activities to try are: aerobic classes, walking, swimming or dancing. Avoid any exercise that could expose you to a fall (cycling, basketball, skiing etc.)

3. Have Insulin Shots

If, after following the eating and exercise plans, you are still struggling to meet your blood glucose targets, your doctor may decide to prescribe regular insulin injections. These shots will definitely not harm your baby, but they could go a long way towards ensuring your baby has a strong and healthy life.

From this brief discussion it should be clear that while gestational diabetes is a serious risk for some people, it could also be quite easily managed by following a healthy and balanced nutritional and exercise routine.

Most importantly, when pregnant, listen to your doctor and other healthcare providers, they will always have your, and your babies, best interests in mind.