Diabetes in Pregnancy

There are many women who have had or have gestational diabetes.  Unfortunately this is a very common occurrence but it can be treated.  There is no cure but it is best to control it for your health and your baby’s health.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes happens to a woman during pregnancy.  High blood sugar levels are the main symptom of this illness.  Having too much glucose in your blood is not healthy for mother or child. It is usually diagnosed later on in pregnancy during glucose testing but if you are diagnosed with it at the beginning, it possible that it is not gestational diabetes and you’ve had it along, even before conception. If you are not pregnant, it is not gestational diabetes but Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.

It is important for you and your baby to get treatment for diabetes during pregnancy. You must consult your physician, in this case your OB/GYN to get the best medical advice to control blood sugar levels. You’ll have many doctors working with you in your favor to have a healthy and happy little bundle of joy.  You may also be given an education on what you should eat and what you should not eat, how to check your sugar levels and how to control the levels of sugar in your blood.   It is also possible to be referred to a nutritionist to create a special diet for you to consume during your pregnancy.

If you have diabetes already and are planning a pregnancy, it is best to get the advice of a doctor before conception. The reason for this is that if you don’t control it beforehand, it may result in complications for you and your baby. There are precautions you need to take and you need to prepare before you conceive.

Why Gestational Diabetes Happens

One of the causes is the lack of the body’s ability to produce insulin when a woman is pregnant. The pancreas creates this hormone and it is an organ that is situated by the stomach, behind it to be exact.  This organ is responsible for using glucose for the energy the body needs. Glucose usage is what will control sugar levels in the blood.

You probably already know about hormone changes that occur during pregnancy.  These changes in the hormones are responsible for weight gain and they may deter the glucose usage.  The medical term for this during gestational diabetes is insulin resistance. This results in the condition called gestational diabetes due to the fact that insulin is not produced in proper quantities.

During pregnancy, this condition is very common in the later portion of the pregnancy, mainly in the third trimester but there are some women who may have it before conception due to being overweight.  The condition progresses during pregnancy and the need to have insulin is much higher.  Being obese or overweight may increase chances of getting this illness when expecting the arrival of a child.

Who can get Gestational Diabetes during Pregnancy?

Not everyone will get gestational diabetes during pregnancy but those who do may have certain factors that contribute to its development. A major factor that determines whether you will get it or not is your weight prior to pregnancy. If you had gestational diabetes in previous pregnancies, it may be likely to develop again in subsequent pregnancies. Heredity may also be a factor, especially if someone in your family has diabetes or has had gestational diabetes. Another common reason may be because of giving birth to a little one that weighs above nine pounds or if you have prediabetes.  Your ethnic background may also play a part.  Women who are Asian, Asian American, African American or American Indian as well as Hispanic may be more susceptible to this condition.  Women who have suffered from any hormone issues such as PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) have a higher chance of getting gestational diabetes.

Preventing Diabetes

There are things you can do to minimize your risk and most of them are very well know.  Of course, weight loss is at the top of this list. You also need to remain active to get the weight off before you start trying to conceive. These easy steps can help improve the body’s ability to eliminate keep insulin and blood glucose in control. You won’t be able to lose weight during pregnancy since it will put your health and child at the risk of developing other medical problems. Not only can you not lose weight, you also cannot gain too much either.  Too much weight gain is a sign of a problem developing or you already have a full fledge problem such as diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes Testing in Pregnancy

Normally, this type of testing is done anywhere from 24 to 28 weeks, close to the beginning of the third trimester.  Women who are at a higher risk may be tested in early pregnancy to take precautions right from the start.  If you have diabetes then, most likely you had it before but it was undiagnosed.

For gestational diabetes during pregnancy and for testing, blood is drawn. Sometimes the blood is sent out for testing or it may be tested right in the doctor’s office if they are equipped for it. This method is a glucose screening test. If you have a higher level of glucose, you may need the oral glucose tolerance test.

In the glucose challenge test, you’ll have to drink a beverage given to you by the doctor’s office or you can drink it before going to the office for a checkup. You’ll have blood drawn one hour after you have consumed the given drink.  Before this, you are not permitted to eat or drink anything but water.  Instructions are given before the test is done. If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you will receive instructions for this as well.

The Effects of Gestational Diabetes during Pregnancy

Some of the effects of this type of diabetes are very harmful.  Some women may have high blood pressure and also high levels of protein in urine.  This is known as preeclampsia.  In addition, women who have this condition may possibly need to have a caesarean section because the baby may be very big.  Depression is also common in this condition and the risk of getting Type 2 diabetes is higher.

More info on Preeclampsia

This is common in  the second part of a woman’s pregnancy and must be treated right away.  If it is ignored, it may cause serious problems, including death. In this case, delivery may have to occur early since delivery is the only cure. If it occurs late into the gestational period.

About Preeclampsia

Having preeclampsia in the later part of your pregnancy, it is possible to need a cesarean section to bring your baby into the world early.  In the chance it is developed early, you may need total bed rest or even hospitalization for the remainder of your pregnancy to allow the baby to fully develop before leaving the womb.

Effects of Depression

If you suffer from depression, you may not be able to properly take care of yourself or the little one inside you, still growing. Get help to control your depression and have it treated right away.  Help and support is available.

Get Regular Checkups

If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you need to keep up with your checkups.  They may be more frequent, depending on your health.  You need to be monitored closely to prevent any complications that may occur in those who are diagnosed with this medical disorder.

Diabetes after Pregnancy

So now you’re beautiful little baby is here and you’re recovering from the delivery and all the hard work you did to bring your child into your life. You’ll most likely have an easier time with sugar levels now but you may have highs and lows related to how much sugar you have in your blood.

You may still need to do glucose testing to understand exactly where you are and how your body acts, but don’t let it get to you.  After your delivery, you’re still in the “healing” stage.  Consistent checking will help you recognize exactly how much glucose your body needs to operate properly.

Also, keep in mind that delivery of your baby does not necessarily mean that the diabetes factor is gone.  It may still stay with you, so you should follow up with your doctor, still, even after the fact. If you were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes already, you’ll be given advice on which medication to take or if you should take what you were taking already before. Breastfeeding will be a factor that is taken into consideration when the doctor decides what you need to control diabetes after pregnancy.

Usually, this condition disappears after the delivery of your baby.  This will be the case if you were active and controlled your diet during your pregnancy. Even after the delivery of your little one, you should check your blood sugar levels so you know if it’s in control or not and so you can get medical advice accordingly.

Signs of Diabetes

Knowing the symptoms of diabetes will help get the medical attention and treatment you need.  There are many signs of diabetes depending on the type you have but the exact causes are not yet known.  Not only will it help you to have knowledge, but others too.

The most important factor to know is that gestational diabetes may not have visible symptoms, maybe even none at all so this puts you at a high risk of danger as well as your unborn child.

If you have a high level of blood sugar, you may feel ill with symptoms such as nausea and feel like you have lost weight.  Another possibility is feeling dizzy.  This is very common if your sugar level exceeds 300 but the higher it is, the worse you will feel.  If it exceeds 600 milligrams, then you’re in serious danger.  This consequence can lead to going into a diabetic coma and being unconscious.

The symptoms of Type 1 diabetes are very different compared to Type 2 diabetes. In this case, you may have some symptoms that are the same as or similar to Type 1 diabetes.  It is possible to have an excessive buildup of ketones in your body.  When this happens, you may experience abdominal pain, possible unconsciousness and in the worst cases, coma.

No matter how well you control the condition, there are chances of having symptoms and getting out of control. There have been cases where a person has lost proper nerve functioning and this is known as peripheral neuropathy.

Another symptom of diabetes is the inability to see well due to blurriness. If your diabetes is not treated, then this is the consequence.  It is known as diabetic retinopathy and if caught early, you can get treatment.  The most common treatment is laser surgery.

Gestational Diabetes Treatment

To keep yourself and your unborn baby healthy, you must have gestational diabetes treatment. There are things you can do to keep your glucose levels in control by setting targets.  They will be given to you by your doctor. There are a few ways to this that include changing your diet to a healthy one, staying physically active, medication and insulin shots only when necessary. The decision is the doctor’s and you must follow instructions properly to have a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Selecting the Right Foods

To be healthy, stay healthy and to deliver a healthy baby, it is important to have good food in your diet that will not irritate your diabetes. This factor is not only important during pregnancy, but throughout your entire life. The right foods will keep your glucose levels in the normal range so you don’t have any medical complications. After all, you need to stay in good shape to take care of your little darling newborn baby. There are many resources, including your doctor that will help you learn which foods are perfect for you, how much you should consume and meal timing.

Exercise to Control Diabetes

It is important to be active physically to control your sugar levels.  Your doctor will be able to tell you exactly what activity will work for you based on your medical history.  Not only is this a way to control gestational diabetes, it is also a way to prevent it. You can easily reach your target glucose levels with this easy method now and even long after your baby is born, whether you have diabetes or not.

There are many things you can do to fulfill this requirement.  Just 30 minutes of even easy activity is perfect.  Don’t stand around or sit around.  Do things like walk around.  Your muscle movements can also help condition your heart.  Other activities such as light aerobics are good too. Other options include low-intensity aerobics or any other low-intensity workouts that won’t put stress on your growing belly. Stay away from activities that may harm your belly and your baby such as volleyball, basketball, baseball, etc. Even though climbing up and down steps is a good exercise, try to avoid activities in which you may fall and be harmed.

Checking Glucose Levels

You will need a blood glucose meter that will tell you what your levels are and if the things you are doing will control the excess glucose levels. The doctor may also show you how to use it and also had to get blood for testing.  Doctors will also tell you what the target range is for you and exactly when you should check.  It is also a good idea to track everything.

How to avoid Diabetes

You can prevent gestational diabetes with some simple steps before you conceive.  Habits need to change first before anything else to help you have  happy, healthy and safe pregnancy.

  1. Loss Weight Prior to Conception: Any weight and excess fat you need to take off must come off before conception since this act can be dangerous for both you and your baby if done during the pregnancy. This is an important tip for how to avoid diabetes during pregnancy. Weight loss reduces the risk factor of getting gestational diabetes. This is important not just for pregnancy but for your overall health.
  2. Exercising for Glucose Control: Another way of how to avoid gestational diabetes is to exercise. The many benefits of being physically active include weight loss, decrease insulin sensitivity and decrease blood sugar levels. Doing mild aerobics and light resistance can control sugar levels according to studies.  You need both of these to keep this illness at bay.
  3. An easy tip is to consume foods high in fiber such as grains.

Diabetic Pregnancy Diet

If you have any type of diabetes, especially during pregnancy, you need to change your lifestyle when it comes to eating right. This is an important step to control blood sugar levels and have a healthy baby when the time comes. An important tip when it comes to your diet is watching the amount of carbohydrates you consume.  These types of food convert to glucose and are then used for energy.  This goes to your baby as well. You can consume carbs but too much is not good so you need to carefully keep track of them.

Which Foods Contain Carbohydrates?

Foods such as dairy products like yogurt and milk as well as juice and fruit have carbs in them.  Other foods include bread, rice, various grains, crackers, pasta, beans, etc.  have carbs as well.  Another thing that should be avoided is junk food such as cookies, syrup, soft drinks and candy because of high level of sugar in them that can force blood sugar levels sky high and harm your baby and you at the same time.

You’ll need to measure carb intake in grams and you’ll find exactly how many grams are in the food you’re eating right on the label.  Keep track of you serving size and how many grams of carbohydrates are in each one.

Diabetes Pregnancy Diet Recommendations

You’ll need to discuss your illness with a nutritionist to get recommendations on what you should eat and how many carbs you should be taking in at each meal including snack time. The nutritionist will also teach you how you can determine exactly what your carb intake is. There are some tips you can use to make your diet planning easier.

  • Eat more meals with smaller portions dailyDon’t eat too much at one time because this can bring about a huge spike in sugar levels. Eat several meals throughout the day without skipping any.  You already know that you need a little extra during pregnancy so your baby will benefit too.
  • Limit Intake of Starchy FoodsAvoid foods that are high in starch or cut down on eating them. You need some but don’t go overboard since starch converts to sugar and this in turn can lead to higher levels of sugar. Bread and pasta are good examples.
  • Avoid Drinking too much Milk at Once

It’s better to have just one cup for the time being.  Milk is high in carbohydrates so it’s best to split your intake throughout the day rather than all at once. We all know it is healthy and it has calcium but too much at once can prove to be detrimental, especially if you have diabetes.

  • Avoid Excessive Intake of FruitFruit is naturally high in sugar so to be safe when you have gestational diabetes, cut down eat just a little bit at a time.

These are just some basic tips and don’t forget to add in exercise. Yes, it will be difficult, especially in late pregnancy but it has to be done.  Walk around the house in your pajamas if you don’t feel like going out.  Follow your other little ones around to get exercise. That will definitely help since they hate to sit still.

NOTICE: The material on this site for informational use only and should not be taken as medical advice. This email does not constitute any doctor-patient relationship, or any other type of relationship. The material has been thoroughly researched and believed to be the most up to date information at time of publishing. This material is offered as information only and the reader has the responsibility to verify any medical decisions or actions with his or her health care team.

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