Gestational diabetes is diabetes diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy (gestation). Like other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes affects how your cells use sugar (glucose). Gestational diabetes causes high blood sugar that can affect your pregnancy and your baby’s health.
While any pregnancy complication is concerning, there’s good news. Expected mothers can help control gestational diabetes by eating healthy foods, exercising and, if necessary, taking medication. Controlling blood sugar can keep you and your baby healthy and prevent a difficult delivery.
In women with gestational diabetes, blood sugar usually returns to normal soon after delivery. But if you’ve had gestational diabetes, you have a higher risk of getting type 2diabetes. You’ll need to be tested for changes in blood sugar more often.
Gestational diabetes typically does not cause any noticeable signs or symptoms. This is why screening tests are so important. Rarely, an increased thirst or increased urinary frequency may be noticed.
During pregnancy, some of the hormones produced by the placenta (Which provide nutrition for your growing baby) reduce the action of mother insulin. This is called insulin resistance. When insulin resistance occurs, the pancreas then needs to produce extra insulin to keep blood sugar levels in the normal range. If the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin, blood sugar levels rise and gestational diabetes develops. In most cases, blood sugar levels return to the normal range after the baby is born and the woman no longer has diabetes.
However, some women will continue to have high blood glucose levels after delivery, leading to diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
Some women have a greater risk of gestational diabetes. Risk factors for gestational diabetes include the following:
- Overweight and obesity.
- A lack of physical activity.
- Previous gestational diabetes or prediabetes.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome.
· Diabetes in an immediate family member
There are no guarantees when it comes to preventing gestational diabetes but the more healthy habits you can adopt before pregnancy, the better. If you’ve had gestational diabetes, these healthy choices may also reduce your risk of having it again in future pregnancies or developing type 2 diabetes in the future.
Eating healthy food: Choose food high in fiber and low in fat and calories. Focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Keep active: Exercising before and during pregnancy can help protect you from developing gestational diabetes. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days of the week.
Start pregnancy at a healthy weight: If you are planning to get pregnant, losing extra weight beforehand may help you have a healthier pregnancy. Focus on making lasting changes to your eating habits that can help you through pregnancy, such as eating more vegetables and fruits.
Don’t gain more weight than recommended: Gaining some weight during pregnancy is normal and healthy. But gaining too much weight too quickly can up your risk of gestational diabetes