Understanding Gestational Diabetes

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Anywhere from 3 to 8 percent of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes.  Diabetes is a disease in which your body can’t properly manage insulin, resulting in high blood sugar levels, which is dangerous for both you and your baby. The hormone shifts that occur during pregnancy make it harder for your pancreas to manage your insulin, which accounts for the rise in diabetes during pregnancy.  Though, for most women, this condition will disappear when your baby is born, the diagnosis of gestational diabetes makes you more likely to develop diabetes in future pregnancies and later in life.

One of the main concerns in gestational diabetes is the excess glucose that can pass into your baby’s blood forcing your little one’s pancreas to work extra hard to produce more insulin.  This excess glucose can lead to high birth weights making delivery more challenging and potentially requiring a c-section.  Additionally your baby might be born hypoglycemic due to their overproduction of insulin in utero.  More serious risks include an increased risk of stillbirth and twice the risk of pre-enclampsia for moms.  Your child will also have a higher chance of being obese and developing diabetes later in life.

Most pregnant women are screened for diabetes towards the end of the second semester.  Some of the symptoms of gestational diabetes include a high BMI (obesity), frequent urination, and feeling especially tired, thirsty or hungry.  Managing gestational diabetes with your physician is important and may include a combination of meal planning, exercise and insulin shots where necessary.  Your practitioner will likely monitor the baby’s weight gain and ask you to pay special attention to your baby’s movement patterns during the third trimester.

Monitoring your blood sugar levels is essential in both preventing and managing gestational diabetes.  Creating a low glycemic meal plan, managing your weight and including exercise is the cornerstone for both you and your baby’s health.  Begin with some of the following:

Reduce excessively sweet foods- even though it’s tempting to overindulge in candy and ice cream, it is a much better idea to find healthful snacks that won’t skyrocket your blood sugar levels like vegetables and hummus, pear with nut butter and goat yogurt.

Eat frequent meals throughout the day- whatever you do, don’t skip meals!  Eating frequently through the day will help to manage your insulin levels and keep you blood sugar levels steady.

Cut out refined carbohydrates- white flours and refined sugars will also spike blood sugar levels and don’t contain the nutritional value of their whole grain counterparts.

Eat balanced protein, carbohydrate meals and snacks- include a variety of grains, protein, fruits and veggies to ensure you are getting all the essential vitamins and minerals you need.

Exercise- 30 of moderate activity can go along way to helping to balance your blood sugar levels, while helping you to manage your weight gain during pregnancy.

4 Comments to “Understanding Gestational Diabetes”

  1. […] gain or obesity •    Heavy menstrual bleeding •    Excessive facial hair •    High blood sugar levels, diabetes •    High cholesterol •    High blood pressure •    Hair loss/thinning •    […]

  2. […] You will also achieve your ideal weight during fertility and breastfeeding and help to prevent gestational diabetes in pregnancy. Share and […]

  3. […] The key to feeling good is stable blood sugar levels. Truly. When you get that piece in check all else starts to fall into place: your energy levels soar, your mood stabilizes and your extra weight drops off. Maintaining stable blood sugar levels is essential for a healthy pregnancy without risk of gestational diabetes. […]

  4. I agree completely! Usually women who develop gestational diabetes have a genetic predisposition to diabetes; it is in their family tree. Not only is it dangerous for the mother, but there is a high risk of sudden death of your baby in the last trimester, and there is a higher than expected risk of fetal abnormalities. So screening for this condition and early delivery is the best way to manage the Mom & Baby!

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