Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that affects pregnant women. Typically, it occurs during the second or third trimester of pregnancy and usually goes away after giving birth. However, if left untreated, gestational diabetes can have serious consequences for both mother and fetus.
Scientists are now beginning to understand the underlying mechanisms behind this condition, as well as how it affects pregnant women. Researchers have discovered that gestational diabetes is caused by a lack of insulin production or the body’s inability to properly use the insulin produced, resulting in high blood sugar levels.
A Source of Real Danger
The potential risks associated with uncontrolled blood sugar levels during pregnancy are serious and include preterm labor, pre-eclampsia (which can be fatal), macrosomia (large newborn size), stillbirth, and Cesarean delivery. Significantly, gestational diabetes can also increase the risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes later in life for both mother and baby.
It’s essential that pregnant women monitor their own health during pregnancy, which includes watching out for signs and symptoms of gestational diabetes. Signs can include increased thirst and frequent urination, as well as increased hunger, despite eating more than normal. If you are concerned that you may have gestational diabetes, talk to your doctor about getting tested early on in your pregnancy, so that it can be managed properly.
If you do receive a diagnosis of gestational diabetes, please follow your doctor’s instructions closely in order to reduce the potential complications of uncontrolled glucose levels. Healthy foods, such as vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, should take priority over foods high in sugar or simple carbohydrates, such as white breads or pastas. Limit drinks high in sugar – soda or fruit juices that contain added sugars – as much as possible.
Taking a Proactive Approach
As long as the physical activity is approved by your doctor beforehand, exercising regularly will help keep glucose levels within range and yield additional health benefits in the form of improved moods, better sleep quality, and weight management. It’s crucial to keep up with regular prenatal care visits, in order to ensure you stay on top of any diabetes management needed during your pregnancy. Do it for your own health, and for your baby’s.
Although gestational diabetes can occur during any stage of a pregnancy, making it difficult to prepare for its onset without early screening tests, being proactive about managing it is key to ensuring a healthy outcome for mother and child. With proper precautions and a management plan in place, the specter of gestational diabetes need not prevent you from having a safe, successful delivery full of joyous memories.