Gestational Diabetes and You

Gestational diabetes (GDM)

Is a condition that affects some pregnant women, causing high blood sugar levels that can lead to complications for both the mother and the baby. In this blog post, we will explore what gestational diabetes is, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. It is a temporary condition that typically resolves after delivery. However, women who have had gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

During pregnancy, hormones produced by the placenta can make it harder for the body to use insulin effectively, leading to insulin resistance. This means that the body may not be able to produce enough insulin to meet the increased demand, resulting in high blood sugar levels.

Causes of Gestational Diabetes

The exact cause of gestational diabetes is not known, but several factors increase the risk of developing the condition. These include:

  • Being overweight or obese before pregnancy
  • Having a family history of diabetes
  • Having gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy
  • Being older than 25 years of age
  • Having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Being of African, Hispanic, Native American, or Asian descent
Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes often does not cause any symptoms, which is why it is important to be screened for the condition during pregnancy. However, some women may experience the following symptoms:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
Diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes

All pregnant women are screened for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. The screening test involves drinking a sugary solution and having blood drawn to measure blood sugar levels. If the blood sugar level is higher than normal, further testing is required to confirm the diagnosis.

Pregnant women should also be screened at booking with a test called an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) and repeated at 24-28 weeks if the booking test is normal.

Treatment of Gestational Diabetes

The goal of treatment for gestational diabetes is to keep blood sugar levels within a target range to reduce the risk of complications for both the mother and the baby. Treatment options may include:

  • Dietary changes: Eating a balanced diet that includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help control blood sugar levels.
  • Exercise: Regular physical activity can help improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels.
  • Monitoring blood sugar levels: Checking blood sugar levels several times a day can help women with gestational diabetes keep their blood sugar levels in a healthy range.
  • Medications: Some women with gestational diabetes may need to take insulin or oral medications to control their blood sugar levels.

In most cases, gestational diabetes resolves after delivery. However, women who have had gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Therefore, it is important to continue to monitor blood sugar levels and make healthy lifestyle choices after delivery.

In conclusion, gestational diabetes is a condition that affects some pregnant women and can lead to complications for both the mother and the baby. By being screened for gestational diabetes, making healthy lifestyle choices, and following a treatment plan, women with gestational diabetes can reduce the risk of complications and have a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

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