Gestational Diabetes Explained
When you’re expecting, the most important thing you can do is to eat right and exercise for a healthy pregnancy. You’ll also need to visit your health care provider on a regular basis to ensure that your weight, blood pressure, and baby’s development are all normal.
Gestational Diabetes is a common development in many pregnancies. It can happen even if you have no family history of diabetes, and you’ve never had diabetes before. While gestational diabetes is temporary, since pregnancy changes how the body responds to insulin, you may want to know how to avoid gestational diabetes!
Who is at Risk for Gestational Diabetes?
During pregnancy, the body goes through plenty of changes! One of these changes is how the body responds to insulin. Gestational diabetes occurs when your body cannot produce enough insulin, which is a hormone that regulates glucose (or, blood sugar).
This means that technically, every pregnant woman is at some risk of developing gestational diabetes. That said, there are some risk factors which make some women more likely to develop this condition than others. These factors include…
- If family members have type 2 diabetes
- If you have prediabetes, which is a blood glucose higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes
- If you’ve had gestational diabetes before
- If you are overweight
- If you are African American, Asian American, American Indian, Hispanic/Latina, or Pacific Islander
Why It’s Important to Treat Gestational Diabetes
Since gestational diabetes is usually temporary and your body returns to normal after delivery, you may ask why it’s important to treat it at all!
High glucose (blood sugar) levels in your body also affect your baby. Your baby will also have high blood sugar during your term. While you will most likely return to normal after delivery, untreated gestational diabetes could permanently affect your baby.
If you do not treat gestational diabetes…
- Your baby has a much higher risk of dying before or shortly after birth.
- Your baby’s pancreas will have to work overtime to produce enough insulin, and stores glucose as fat. This could result in a condition known as macrosomia – or, an unusually large body. While this may not seem problematic, it can make delivery dangerous for both you and your baby.
- Your baby could develop breathing problems, called respiratory distress syndrome, after birth.
- Your baby is more likely to become overweight and develop type 2 diabetes as an adult.
- While curable, your baby may be born with jaundice, or yellowed skin and whites of the eyes.
In the long term, untreated gestational diabetes can affect future pregnancies. You may also be at higher risk for type 2 for the rest of your life. It’s possible that gestational diabetes can trigger type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and you’ll need to undergo treatment even after birth.
Fortunately, reducing your risk of gestational diabetes only requires a couple of lifestyle changes!
How to Avoid Gestational Diabetes
Losing weight is one of the best ways to avoid developing gestational diabetes. Make healthy eating choices, and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables while avoiding excessive fatty foods.
While it may be tempting to reach for the ice cream, keep your weight at a normalized level! Gaining too much weight at one time can also put you at higher risk of developing gestational diabetes.
Exercise – or at least an increase in activity – is also a great way to avoid gestational diabetes. By keeping active, you’ll help your body produce insulin and keep your blood sugar levels normal. While exercising, your body uses glucose without the need for insulin!
Exercise and a good diet are healthy for both you and your baby! Consult with your doctor about any questions or concerns regarding changes in your diet or exercise program.
Diabetic Care at Florida Medical Clinic
If you’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, Florida Medical Clinic’s Endocrinology Department can help. We offer full evaluation and treatment programs at our North Tampa, Zephyrhills, Central Tampa, and Land O’Lakes campuses. With all our locations in convenient distance to Tampa, FL, we’re sure to be close by! Schedule an appointment online, or phone the campus most convenient to you! We look forward to helping you have a healthy pregnancy.