How to Keep Mom and Baby Healthy During Pregnancy

Gestational diabetes or gestational diabetes mellitus also referred to as GDM is a type of temporary diabetes or high blood sugar (blood glucose levels) that occurs in women, including those who do not have a history of diabetes. The risks include age and well, getting pregnant. It may happen to about 6% of pregnant women, even those who are healthy and maintain a balanced diet and regular exercise routine.   In the United States high blood sugars during pregnancy may affect up to about 135,000 women a year.

Gestational Diabetes Causes:

Right nPregnant woman sitting in bedroom with glass of water smilingow doctors can’t say for certain, but they do know a few things about what happens in your body during pregnancy, and this provides some clues. One of the changes a pregnant woman’s body undergoes is how it manages the food it receives to accommodate the baby needs. Normally, carbohydrates is broken down with the help of insulin to form glucose which is the main energy source of the body.

During pregnancy however, this process slows down to provide more glucose for the baby. In most cases, the body produces more insulin to compensate for the increase of glucose supply. In instances when this failsafe mechanism of producing more mechanism does not work, gestational diabetes occurs. It is thought that the hormones in the placenta from mom may also block mom’s ability to use insulin effectively. This problem in pregnancy is called insulin resistance and when it happens a pregnant women may require three times or more insulin than she would normally need.

How does this problem with insulin affect blood sugar levels?  When a woman has gestational diabetes, making and/or using insulin is a problem. If you don’t have enough insulin—the body cannot process the glucose in the cells effectively and thus can’t change the glucose into energy. Instead, the glucose stays in the bloodstream and increases to levels that are higher than normal. High blood sugar is called hyperglycemia and this is what happens during gestational diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes Test:

A pregnant woman can take a test usually between her 25th and 28th week when the hormones that block the insulin are at its peak to check if her glucose levels are normal. This is exam is known as oral glucose tolerance test and for most pre-natal check-ups this has become standard.

A woman is asked to fast, usually overnight or about 8 hours before her sugar levels are checked. Then she is made to drink a glass of sugary drink and after 2 hours, her sugars levels are again checked. If they remain normal, then that means she does not have gestational diabetes.

Diabetes During Pregnancy: What Moms Need to Know for their own health and the health of their babies

How Does Gestational Diabetes Affect the Baby?

In GDM, there are risks for both the baby and the mother. Although in most cases it goes away after pregnancy, having gestational diabetes increases the woman risks to have type 2 diabetes even after pregnancy. Also, it increases the risk for a caesarian delivery because it often makes the baby too large. After birth, the baby may also have a greater risk for obesity and diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes Treatment:

A positive GDM diagnosis can be managed with a healthy and controlled diet and regular exercise. The amount of carbohydrates intake will be monitored and the doctor will require you to have 30 minutes of moderate exercise everyday such as brisk walking or swimming. You will also be made to take regular tests to check your blood levels as well as ultrasounds. In some cases, injecting insulin directly into your system may also be necessary.

When positively diagnosed with GDM, women need not feel bad about themselves given that this happens as a result of the changes that happen during pregnancy. There are ways to avoid it and better manage it to ensure that the adverse effects do not have a long-term impact on the baby.