Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that shows up during pregnancy, and typically goes away shortly after giving birth. Not all women who get pregnant will get this type of diabetes, however the Centers for Disease Control reported that approximately 9.2 percent of women experience it. It is only called gestational diabetes when the woman did not have type 1 or type 2 diabetes prior to pregnancy. It happens when her blood glucose level is high due to the hormonal changes of pregnancy. Here is what you should know about gestational diabetes.
What Causes Gestational Diabetes?
While the exact cause of gestational diabetes is unknown, doctors do have a few ideas. They believe the increase in hormones that occurs when the placenta begins supporting the growing baby has a lot to do with it. These hormones can block how insulin moves through the woman's body, which causes insulin resistance. In turn, it can lead to gestational diabetes.
Are There Any Risk Factors?
Some pregnant women are more prone than others to getting gestational diabetes. It tends to be more common in women that are obese, have traces of sugar in their urine, have a family history of diabetes, or who have had gestational diabetes for previous pregnancies. You are considered to be in the high-risk category and tested early for diabetes if you are over 35, have had a baby with a birth defect or delivered a stillborn baby, have high blood pressure, or have given birth to a large baby.
What Are the Symptoms?
Unfortunately, there are not many signs that point to having gestational diabetes. This is why it is standard for pregnant women to have a glucose screening test between the 24 week and 28 week mark of their pregnancy. If you are in the high-risk category, you may be tested for gestational diabetes sooner. Keep in mind a positive glucose screening does not necessarily mean you have diabetes, but that you will be watched closely and may need to modify your diet.
It is Harmful to My Baby?
Since gestational diabetes doesn't start until later in the pregnancy, is it not as much of a risk to your growing baby as it would be if you had diabetes before getting pregnant. However, you do want to follow what your doctor recommends to protect your baby. If you do not follow the doctor's orders in regards to your diet or lifestyle choices during pregnancy, it has the potential to affect your baby. Keep in mind, however, insulin does not cross the placenta.
Are There Treatment Options?
Changing your lifestyle is the only way to treat gestational diabetes. If you had a positive glucose screening test, you will need to start modifying your diet. You should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, though also watching sugar from the fruits you eat. You also must have the proper combination of vitamins and minerals, fats, carbohydrates and protein in your diet. This means leaving out soda, cookies, candy and cakes, and eating a lot of whole grains. You will also be instructed to exercise regularly and might need to take certain medications.
For more information, or if you have any specific concerns, make sure you contact your doctor at a clinic like Mile High OB GYN.