Diabetes comes in different forms, including gestational diabetes, which is the onset of diabetes during pregnancy. November is National Diabetes Month, and therefore we’d like to shine some light on this unique form of the disease.
When a woman develops diabetes during pregnancy, it is considered gestational diabetes. Glucose levels usually return to normal after delivery, but these women are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes after pregnancy.
What causes gestational diabetes?
All women are at risk for gestational diabetes, and the cause isn’t always known. However, some women are at a higher risk. Risk factors can include being older than 25, having a family history of diabetes, a BMI above 30, or a nonwhite race.
The placenta produces several hormones during pregnancy, which can sometimes hinder the production of insulin. In simple terms, insulin helps your body to use the sugar in your bloodstream to produce energy. When this action can’t happen, the blood sugar levels rise. While a slight increase in blood sugar is normal during pregnancy, gestational diabetes occurs when the level is so high that it can affect your baby.
How do you prevent gestational diabetes?
Pregnant women should always practice a healthy lifestyle for both their own health and the health of their baby, and this is what can help to prevent gestational diabetes. Maintaining healthy habits before, during, and after pregnancy can lower your chances of getting gestational diabetes. These habits can include eating foods high in fiber and low in fat and calories, including fruits and vegetables. Staying active is also important. Pregnant women are encouraged to participate in some form of activity for at least 30 minutes a day. If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy, a healthy lifestyle is especially important to ensure you do not contract the disease after birth.
How do you combat or treat gestational diabetes?
Usually, gestational diabetes can be treated with an adjustment in diet. Expectant mothers are encouraged to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, increase their intake of protein, and limit the amount of processed foods that they eat. Sometimes, medication is necessary to combat gestational diabetes. Mothers may need to take an oral medication or injectable insulin to help keep their blood sugar levels low. The treatment will depend on your blood sugar levels and will be determined by your doctor.
If you have questions about gestational diabetes or think you may be at risk, please talk to your doctor at Cheyenne OBGYN. To find more information, please see our patient resources tab or call 307-634-5216.