When a woman who has never had diabetes before gets high blood sugar levels during pregnancy, she has gestational diabetes. Almost 1 in 10 women will develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy, says a 2014 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In pregnant women with gestational diabetes, the mother’s body does not make and use all of the insulin needed. The mother’s placenta sometimes stops the insulin from doing its job. Without enough insulin, the sugar levels in her blood go higher. This makes the baby’s blood sugar levels go higher, too.
Gestational diabetes and your baby
Babies born to moms with gestational diabetes can be very large (called macrosomia), which can cause health problems, including hurting the shoulders during birth, low blood glucose levels just after the baby is born, jaundice and breathing problems. Also, moms who have gestational diabetes have a higher chance of getting a C-section.
What you can do
Doctors don’t know why some women get gestational diabetes, but there are some things that increase your chance of getting the disease during pregnancy. Below are some tips if you are pregnant and looking to lower your risk.
To lower your risk of diabetes in pregnancy:
- Do not gain more weight than your healthcare provider tells you to gain
- Eat healthy meals
- Exercise often
If you have diabetes while you are pregnant:
- Eat healthy meals
- Exercise often (150 minutes a week)
- You may need to take insulin because pregnant women cannot take diabetes pills
All pregnant women get tested for gestational diabetes, usually between 24 weeks and 28 weeks of pregnancy. If you have any risk factors, you may be tested earlier.
For most women, gestational diabetes goes away after pregnancy but they are at a higher risk of having diabetes in the future. For women who had diabetes before pregnancy, their diabetes will not go away after baby is born.
Talk to your doctor about your risk for developing gestational diabetes during your pregnancy. To learn more about diabetes, go to http://www.parklandhospital.com/diabetesfacts.