Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that some women develop during pregnancy. Although the percentages of having gestational diabetes are very low, it is important to know if you have it, how it could affect your pregnancy and what you can do to minimize related risks.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
When you become pregnant, your cells can be less responsive to insulin which interferes with your body developing the necessary energy to function properly. As your body needs more insulin, it is your pancreas job to supply the body with this additional insulin. If your pancreas cannot keep up with the demand of insulin from your body, then your blood glucose levels can rise too high, which can result in gestational diabetes. Most women do not maintain gestational diabetes after the birth of their child, but are at a higher risk for getting it again during future pregnancies. This could also lead to future diabetes later in life.
How it Affects Pregnancy
If blood sugar levels are too high, too much blood can end up in your baby’s blood. Once that occurs, it forces your baby’s pancreas to produce more insulin to process the extra glucose. Extra blood sugar and insulin can result in your baby putting on extra weight which can make for a difficult delivery. If your baby is too large to enter the birth canal, your doctor will need to use special maneuvers to deliver your baby. A baby that is too large to enter the birth canal is known as a macrosomic baby. A macrosomic baby typically has a larger upper body that in addition to being difficult to deliver, it can potentially cause harm to the baby in the form of fractured bones or to the mother.
During pregnancy, it is best to keep your blood sugar levels in check. This includes a healthy, balanced diet along with moderate exercise. After the birth of your child, you should make every effort to nurse your baby. There is evidence that breastfeeding improves the glucose metabolism and may help prevent childhood obesity. This will help decrease your child’s risk of diabetes as an adolescent.
At the Northeast Georgia Diagnostic Clinic, our Certified Diabetes educators are educated and licensed healthcare professionals who possess distinct and specialized knowledge in diabetes self-management education. The credential demonstrates that they have mastered in depth knowledge and skills in the biological, social sciences, communication, counseling, and education to provide self-management education for those with, or at risk for diabetes.
If you would like to learn more about our approach to diabetes education or if you have questions about type 1 and type 2 diabetes, please contact us.