Gestational Diabetes: Do You Know What it is?

What is gestational diabetes?

We've been discussing Diabetes for several weeks now. We've reviewed what it is and how it effects adults as well as children. I'd like to discuss today how it effects pregnancy and especially your baby. 

If your blood sugar level first becomes too high when you are pregnant, you have gestational diabetes. It will usually go back to normal after the baby is born.

Having high blood sugar while pregnant can cause problems for you and your baby. Your baby could grow too large, which can make for a difficult delivery. This can cause your baby to have low blood sugar. Most women who have gestational diabetes are able to control their blood sugar and give birth to a healthy baby.

When women have had gestational diabetes they are at a higher risk than other women to develop type 2 diabetes. You may be able to prevent or reduce the degree of type 2 diabetes by staying at a healthy weight, eating healthy foods, and exercising.

What causes gestational diabetes?

As you know by now, the insulin helps your body use and store the sugar from the food you eat. This will keep your sugar level in a target range. When you are pregnant, the placenta makes hormones and can make it harder for insulin to work. As we reviewed previously this is called insulin resistance. While pregnant when the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin, the sugar levels fall out of the target range. 

Should you be tested gestational diabetes?

The American Diabetes Association recommends that all women who have not already been diagnosed with diabetes be tested for gestational diabetes between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy. The test used is the oral glucose tolerance test.

What are the symptoms?

It is important while pregnant that you get tested for gestational diabetes because this type of Diabetes may not cause symptoms. Often women are surprised when the test shows that they do have a high blood sugar level. This however could mean that you could have had another type of Diabetes that hasn't been diagnosed. Remember that gestational diabetes can cause problems for both you and your baby. Some of the symptoms of other types of Diabetes are as follows: You're thirsty and urinate more often, your appetite has increased and you can have blurred vision. 

Of course when you're pregnant you tend to urinate and feel hungry more often. So these symptoms don't always mean that you have diabetes. Talk with your doctor so that you can be tested for diabetes during pregnancy.

How is it treated?

Women with gestational diabetes can control their blood sugar level just like anyone diagnosed with Diabetes. As you know changing your eating habits and by exercising regularly. These healthy choices can also help prevent future incidents of gestational diabetes in future pregnancies. Making these life choices can also prevent type 2 diabetes later in your life.

Treatment for gestational diabetes also includes checking your blood sugar level and seeing your doctor regularly. You may need to take insulin injections to control your blood sugar. Keep in mind that the insulin will be added to the insulin your body natural makes as well. The most common medication for Diabetes used today is glyburide and metformin used for type 2 diabetes. Some doctors are using these 2 medications to treat women who have gestational diabetes. As always I recommend that you talk to your doctor. He/She will be able to discuss your options and treatment.

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