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Why Do Women Get Gestational Diabetes


What Does This Mean For Me And My Baby

Why Do Women Get Diabetes During Pregnancy? Dr.Berg On Gestational Diabetes

If you have gestational diabetes, it means your glucose levels are too high. Only pregnant women can get gestational diabetes. And roughly 1 in 20 women do get it during their pregnancy. When you are pregnant, your baby shares your bloodstream. So, if the glucose levels in your bloodstream are a little too high, then your babys glucose levels are also high. In order to counteract these high glucose levels, your babys developing pancreas will work harder to produce more insulin to even things out. This means your baby is getting more calories than they need. And it means they will grow bigger than normal. This could lead to a C-section, traumatic birth or early delivery. After your baby is born and begins using their own bloodstream, rather than depending on yours, the doctor will test your babys blood sugar to make sure everything is okay.

How Is Gestational Diabetes Managed After Pregnancy

Research has shown that women with gestational diabetes have a 3 to 7 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes within five to 10 years which is why its so important to make those healthy habits routine during pregnancy and keep a check on your health even after your pregnancy is over.

Here are a few ways to stay healthy after baby is born:

How Else Might Gestational Diabetes Affect My Pregnancy

You may have more frequent ultrasounds to monitor your babys growth. Your doctor may do a nonstress test to make sure your babys heart rate increases when they are active.


Your doctor may also recommend induction if labor doesnt start by your due date. This is because postdate delivery can increase your risks when you have gestational diabetes.

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Is It Ok For Pregnant Women With Diabetes To Exercise

Field: Pregnancy is not a time to get in shape or take up a new sport. However, exercise does lower blood sugar. If you walk for 10-15 minutes after a meal, that could lower your blood sugar by about 10-15 points. We encourage people to do that. There are studies that suggest if people start exercising for 15-20 minutes a day, it may improve their glycemic control. Its rarely enough to eliminate the need for medication, if patients are heading in that direction.

Tips For Women With Gestational Diabetes

Life Insurance with Gestational Diabetes. Everything You ...
  • Eat Healthy FoodsEat healthy foods from a meal plan made for a person with diabetes. A dietitian can help you create a healthy meal plan. Learn more about diabetes meal planning.
  • A dietitian can also help you learn how to control your blood sugar while you are pregnant. To find a registered dietician near you, please visit The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics websiteexternal icon.
  • Exercise RegularlyExercise is another way to keep blood sugar under control. It helps to balance food intake. After checking with your doctor, you can exercise regularly during and after pregnancy. Get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity at least five days a week. This could be brisk walking, swimming, or actively playing with children.Learn more about physical activity during pregnancy »
  • Monitor Blood Sugar OftenBecause pregnancy causes the bodys need for energy to change, blood sugar levels can change very quickly. Check your blood sugar often, as directed by your doctor.
  • Take Insulin, If NeededSometimes a woman with gestational diabetes must take insulin. If insulin is ordered by your doctor, take it as directed in order to help keep blood sugar under control.
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    How Does Gestational Diabetes Affect Any Future Pregnancies

    If you have had gestational diabetes you are more likely to have it again in future pregnancies. For that reason, a test for gestational diabetes will be performed early in any future pregnancy. If this test gives a result within the recommended range, then another pregnancy OGTT will be done again later in the pregnancy to make sure your blood glucose levels are still in the recommended range.


    What If I Need To Be Induced

    Despite your best attempts to avoid it, induction might become medically necessary if you have gestational diabetes. This can challenge your attempts to have a natural birth, but you might avoid further interventions and a c-section. Theres a number of ways labour can be induced and, depending on the urgency of your situation, you might be able to negotiate as little intervention as possible.

    During labour, your blood glucose will be monitored every hour to ensure it stays within safe levels. If your gestational diabetes has remained under control during pregnancy, through diet and exercise, its unlikely your blood glucose levels will rise. If you have been treated with insulin its more likely your blood glucose will increase during labour and, if that happens, you might need to have insulin and glucose administered through a drip.

    Your baby will need continuous monitoring if medical forms of induction such as Pitocin or Syntocinon are used. This is because artificial oxytocin can cause your uterus to contract strongly and cause your baby to become distressed. Continuous monitoring will limit your ability to move, and might make it harder for you to cope with contractions. You can request an epidural, which might lead to further interventions and c-section.

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    Signs Of Gestational Diabetes

    You may have been shocked to find out that you have gestational diabetes many women have no noticeable symptoms. As some of the signs of diabetes are like symptoms experienced in pregnancy anyway – like feeling more tired or going to the toilet more – most cases are diagnosed during screening for gestational diabetes. This is called an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test, also known as an OGTT.The OGTT is done when youre between 24-28 weeks pregnant. If youve had gestational diabetes before, youll be offered the OGTT or self monitoring of your blood sugar levels at home early in your pregnancy. Youll be shown how to do this and given a blood monitoring kit.


    What’s The Best Way To Manage It

    Gestational Diabetes ,Why do women develop diabetes during pregnancy

    Unless your doctor has restricted exercising, keeping active is important. It keeps you and the baby healthy and it minimizes weight gainwomen who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop gestational diabetes.

    Dr. Esakoff also recommends consulting a diabetic nurse educator, dietitian, or doctor to find a way of eating that works for you.

    “Controlling gestational diabetes is about finding a correct balance of protein, fats, and carbs,” she explains. “A lot of patients assume if they cut carbs, things will be better, but you do need carbs when you’re pregnant.”

    Some women also need medication or insulin injections.

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    How Can Gestational Diabetes Affect My Baby And Me

    High blood sugar levels can be unhealthy for both you and your baby. If the diabetes isnt treated, your baby may be more likely to have problems at birth. For example, your baby may have a low blood sugar level or jaundice. Or your baby may weigh much more than normal.

    Gestational diabetes can also affect your health. For instance, if your baby is very large, you may have a more difficult delivery. You may even need a cesarean section. Gestational diabetes also increases your risk of developing preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a condition that can be serious if left untreated.

    Will Gestational Diabetes Hurt My Baby

    If not treated, gestational diabetes can lead to health problems. The best way to promote a healthy pregnancy if you have gestational diabetes is to follow the treatment plan outlined by your health care provider.

    Most women who have gestational diabetes give birth to healthy babies, especially when they keep their blood sugar under control, eat a healthy diet, get regular, moderate physical activity, and gain the right amount of weight. In some cases, though, the condition can affect the pregnancy.

    Keeping glucose levels under control may prevent certain problems related to gestational diabetes.


    Below are some conditions that can result from your having gestational diabetes. Keep in mind that just because you have gestational diabetes does not mean that these problems will occur.

    Macrosomia Babys body is larger than normal. Large-bodied babies can have difficulty by natural delivery through the vagina the baby may need to be delivered through cesarean section. The most common complication for these babies is shoulder dystocia .

    Hypoglycemia Babys blood sugar is too low. You may need to start breastfeeding right away to get more glucose into the babys system. If it is not possible for you to start feedings, the baby may need to get glucose through a thin, plastic tube in his or her arm that puts glucose directly into the blood.

    Respiratory Distress Syndrome Baby has trouble breathing. The baby might need oxygen or other help breathing if he or she has RDS.

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    Gestational Diabetes Tests And Diagnosis

    Gestational diabetes usually happens in the second half of pregnancy. Your doctor will check for it between weeks 24 and 28, or sooner if you’re at high risk.

    Your doctor will give you a glucose tolerance test: Youâll drink 50 grams of glucose in a sweet drink, which will raise your blood sugar. An hour later, youâll take a blood glucose test to see how your body handled all that sugar. If the results show that your blood sugar is higher than a certain level, youâll need a 3-hour oral glucose tolerance test, meaning youâll get a blood glucose test 3 hours after you drink a 100-gram glucose drink. Your doctor can also test you by having you fast for 12 hours, then giving you a 75-gram glucose drink and a 2-hour blood glucose test.

    If youâre at high risk but your test results are normal, your doctor might test you again later in your pregnancy to make sure you still donât have it.

    Other Risk Factors For Type 2 Diabetes

    What you should know about pregnancy and gestational diabetes?

    Several investigators used univariate and multivariate analysis to identify factors associated with conversion to type 2 diabetes. The variables examined varied widely among studies. Although many studies used stepwise logistic regression, it was usually not specified how variables were selected or how the model was constructed, and the significance of the variables could heavily depend on the order in which they were entered. Not surprisingly, the significance of particular risk factors varied among studies.

    Attempts to identify maternal risk factors such as BMI, maternal age, previous history of GDM, family history of diabetes, and parity yielded mixed results. Of these predictors, pre- and postpartum BMI were the most commonly examined. Several studies found an association between prepregnancy BMI or BMI measurements averaged over pregnancy and type 2 diabetes without adjusting for other factors and after adjusting for other maternal factors , but other studies did not . There was no apparent difference between these two groups of studies in ethnicity, length of follow-up, or other variables included in multivariate models. Postpartum BMI was associated with type 2 diabetes risk in several studies in univariate analysis but not in others in multivariate analysis . Weight gain during pregnancy or since pregnancy was not associated with type 2 diabetes in multivariate analysis .


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    If You Have Gestational Diabetes How Can You Help Prevent Getting Diabetes Later In Life

    For most women, gestational diabetes goes away after giving birth. But having it makes you more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life. Type 2 diabetes is the most common kind of diabetes. If you have type 2 diabetes, your pancreas makes too little insulin or your body becomes resistant to it .

    Heres what you can do to help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes after pregnancy:

    • Breastfeed. Breastfeeding can help you lose weight after pregnancy. Being overweight makes you more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
    • Get tested for diabetes 4 to 12 weeks after your baby is born. If the test is normal, get tested again every 1 to 3 years.
    • Get to and stay at a healthy weight.
    • Talk to your provider about medicine that may help prevent type 2 diabetes.

    Gestational Diabetes And Type 2 Diabetes Link

    Having gestational diabetes increases your risk of developing it again in future pregnancies. It also increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes after giving birth. And it also increase the risk of your child becoming overweight and going on to develop type 2 diabetes as an adult. But there are lots of things you can do to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes including breastfeeding your baby.

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    Will Gestational Diabetes Go Away After Pregnancy

    Most womens blood sugar levels come down after they give birth and hormone levels return to normal. But about 50% of women with gestational diabetes develop Type 2 diabetes later in life. Diet and exercise can help lower your risk. Your healthcare provider may recommend blood glucose tests every six to 12 weeks after pregnancy to watch for diabetes.

    Will The Baby Be Ok

    Gestational Diabetes: Why are all women tested, how is it managed, and what does this mean for baby?

    Most women who get gestational diabetes do well as long as it is adequately managed.

    “However, there can be complications for the baby like low blood sugar at birth, breathing issues, low levels of calcium, and jaundice,” says Dr. Esakoff.

    High blood sugar levels can also lead to an excessive buildup of amniotic fluid, macrosomia , or in rare cases, a stillbirth. Other risks include early delivery, high blood pressure, or preeclampsia.

    Most of these complications can be prevented. The key is to get your blood sugar levels under control as soon as you’re diagnosed.


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    Symptoms Of Gestational Diabetes

    Gestational diabetes does not usually cause any symptoms.

    Most cases are only discovered when your blood sugar levels are tested during screening for gestational diabetes.

    Some women may develop symptoms if their blood sugar levels gets too high , such as:


    • needing to pee more often than usual
    • a dry mouth
    • tiredness

    But some of these symptoms are common during pregnancy and are not necessarily a sign of gestational diabetes. Speak to your midwife or doctor if you’re worried about any symptoms you’re experiencing.

    Why Cant They Just Test My A1c

    Ive seen this posted in many pregnancy and parenting groups so I wanted to address it here.

    The hemoglobin A1C test is a common way of diagnosing diabetes in non-pregnant women.

    In simplest terms, this test measures the percentage of sugar attached to the hemoglobin protein found in your red blood cells. The red blood cells have an average lifespan of about 90-120 days. Therefore, the A1C test measures the average sugar in your blood for the past three to four months.

    A normal A1C is less than 5.7%. A number between 5.7% to 6.4% indicates pre-diabetes. An A1C of over 6.5% is considered diabetes.


    During pregnancy, red blood cell turnover increases. Basically, this means the red blood cell life span decreases and the body produces red blood cells at a more frequent rate.

    Due to this, a pregnant womans A1C is probably slightly lower than if she were not pregnant. A1C is therefore not a good indicator of GDM.

    Furthermore, the main concern with gestational diabetes is postprandial hyperglycemia, or, high blood sugar levels AFTER eating. The A1C test cannot accurately capture blood sugar levels after eating like the oral glucose test does.

    The oral glucose tolerance test is currently the best and most standardized way to check for diabetes during pregnancy.

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    How Gestational Diabetes Can Affect Your Pregnancy

    Most women with gestational diabetes have otherwise normal pregnancies with healthy babies.

    However, gestational diabetes can cause problems such as:

    • your baby growing larger than usual this may lead to difficulties during the delivery and increases the likelihood of needing induced labour or a caesarean section
    • polyhydramnios too much amniotic fluid in the womb, which can cause premature labour or problems at delivery
    • premature birth giving birth before the 37th week of pregnancy
    • pre-eclampsia a condition that causes high blood pressure during pregnancy and can lead to pregnancy complications if not treated
    • your baby developing low blood sugar or yellowing of the skin and eyes after he or she is born, which may require treatment in hospital
    • the loss of your baby though this is rare

    Having gestational diabetes also means you’re at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.

    Diet And Exercise For Gestational Diabetes

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    Take these simple steps to stay healthy:

    Eat a healthy, low-sugar diet. Talk to your doctor to be sure youâre getting the nutrition you need. Follow a meal plan made for someone with diabetes:

    • Trade sugary snacks like cookies, candy, and ice cream for natural sugars like fruits, carrots, and raisins. Add vegetables and whole grains, and watch your portion sizes.
    • Have three small meals along with two or three snacks about the same times every day.
    • Get 40% of your daily calories from carbs and 20% from protein. Fifty percent of the carbs should be complex, high-fiber carbs, with fat being between 25% and 30%.
    • Aim for 20-35 grams of fiber a day. Foods such as whole-grain breads, cereals, and pasta brown or wild rice oatmeal and vegetables and fruits will help get you there.
    • Limit your total fat to less than 40% of your daily calories. Saturated fat should be less than 10% of all the fat you eat.
    • Eat a variety of foods to make sure you get enough vitamins and minerals. You may need to take a supplement to cover your bases. Ask your doctor if they think you should take one.

    Exercise throughout your pregnancy. You can exercise when you have gestational diabetes as long as your doctor says itâs OK. Being active is a good way to help manage your blood sugar. Staying fit during pregnancy is also good for your posture and can curb some common problems, like backaches and fatigue.

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