What is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is when a pregnant woman who has never had
diabetes tests positive for high blood sugar (glucose) levels.
Gestational diabetes affects about 4% of all pregnant women and
it is estimated that there are about 135, 000 women who suffer
from gestational diabetes per year. It is typically developed
during late pregnancy around the 24th to the 28th week and after
the baby’s fully formed but still growing larger. Many doctors
will typically run a glucose tolerance test around week 24 of
pregnancy to determine if the mother has a higher risk for gestational
It has been suggested that placenta, which supports growth of
the baby, may produce hormones that cause insulin resistance within
the mother’s body. Insulin is requires for the body’s
ability to remove glucose from the blood and turn it into energy.
Glucose, therefore, builds up in the blood and the mother suffers
Complications if Left Untreated
Gestational diabetes is treatable, but when left untreated it
can cause harm to the fetus and the mother. While insulin does
not cross the placenta, glucose and other nutrients do go to the
fetus. The high glucose levels that cross over force the baby’s
pancreas to make extra insulin to remove the blood glucose from
its body. The baby ends up with extra energy that its body stores
as fat. This means that a women with untreated gestational diabetes
faces having a fat baby, also known as macrosomia. For Mother’s
untreated gestational diabetes can mean having to have a c-section
or going through a very difficult delivery.
Macrosomia baby’s health problems vary. Some may be born
with damage to their shoulders because of the difficulty of giving
birth to a baby that weighs much more than normal. Others may
be born with low blood glucose levels because of the baby’s
increased production of insulin which increases the risk of breathing
problems. Moreover, baby’s born with excess insulin can
suffer from obesity later in life and be at an increased risk
for type 2 diabetes.
Gestational Diabetes Treatment
Treatment for gestational diabetes can vary depending on the
severity. Some women only require special meal plans, increased
physical activity, and more frequent doctor’s visits. Women
with more severe gestational diabetes, however, can require daily
blood glucose testing and insulin injections.
Typically gestational diabetes goes shortly after the baby is
born. A test will be conducted on the mother a few weeks after
the baby is born to make sure that the gestational diabetes has
resolved itself. Some women, however, actually discover that they
have Type 1 or 2 diabetes while they are pregnant and require
treatment even after the birth of the baby. Women who develop
gestational diabetes during one of their pregnancies are much
more likely to develop it again during subsequent pregnancies.
Avoiding Sweets and Sugars
As a general rule those worried about gestational diabetes should
avoid eating foods that are high in simple sugars (cookies, ice
cream, doughnuts, candy, and cake) and instead opt for foods that
contain natural sugars such as fruit. Whole grain breads should
be substituted for white breads. Snacking foods should consist
of things like carrots, raisins, and celery.
Exercise Can Help
Some doctor’s also suggest increasing exercise. This can
mean exercising for about 5 or 30 minutes every day. Women who
exercise need to, however, be cautious that their pulse does not
get to high. Pregnant women need to discuss what types of exercises
are apporiate. A pregnant women who gets dizzy, has back pain,
other pain should stop all exercise and contact their doctor immediately.
A pregnant women who has labor pains or uterine contractions,
bleeding, or has their water break should call their doctor right