During pregnancy, usually around the 24th week, it’s not uncommon for many women to develop gestational diabetes. This condition occurs in pregnant women who have high blood sugar levels during pregnancy.
According to the American Diabetes Association, it is estimated that it affects 18 percent of all pregnancies. While it is not known exactly what causes gestational diabetes, there are, however, some clues.
During pregnancy, the placenta supports the baby as it grows, supplying hormones that help the baby develop. These hormones also block the insulin in the mother’s body. This is called insulin resistance. And when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, gestational diabetes begins. During pregnancy, women may need up to three times as much insulin to prevent gestational diabetes.
How Gestational Diabetes Can Affect Your Baby
Untreated or poorly controlled gestational diabetes can cause harm to your baby. Gestational diabetes causes your pancreas to work overtime to make insulin. Even though insulin does not cross the placenta, glucose and other nutrients do. If your baby receives extra amounts of glucose, it can cause high blood glucose levels.
Since the baby is getting more energy than it needs, the extra energy is stored as fat, which can lead to macrosomia. Macrosomia can cause damage to a baby’s shoulders during birth, cause low blood glucose levels at birth and increase the risk for breathing problems and obesity.
Treating Gestational Diabetes
If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, it is important, not only for your health but for the health of your baby, to stick to your doctor’s recommended treatment plan.
This plan will include special meal plans and scheduled physical activity. It may also include daily blood glucose testing and insulin injections.
Getting Help for Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes is treatable. Make sure you work with your doctor, obstetrician, nurse educator, certified nurse midwife and dietitian to lower your high blood glucose levels.
In addition, our Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center offers a two-hour Gestational Diabetes class every Thursday morning at Gwinnett Medical Center–Lawrenceville. The class is facilitated by two Certified Diabetes Educators. Patients need a physician referral to attend.
For more information, please call 678-312-6040.