Gestational Diabetes




WHAT IS GESTATIONAL DIABETES?

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. After the birth of the baby, the mother usually will not continue to have diabetes.

When you eat your body breaks food down into glucose and sends it into the blood. Insulin then helps move the glucose from the blood into your cells. When glucose enters your cells, it is either used as fuel for energy right away or stored for later use. In a person with gestational diabetes, there is a problem with how the insulin works.


WHAT CAUSES GESTATIONAL DIABETES?

During pregnancy, an expecting mother’s placenta makes lots of hormones. Some of these hormones block insulin from moving glucose into the cells. This is called insulin resistance. All pregnant women, with or without gestational diabetes, have some insulin resistance.

To overcome this “resistance,” the body makes more insulin. However, if you have gestational diabetes, your body cannot make enough insulin to keep up. Without enough insulin, the glucose in your blood rises higher than normal. This is called high blood glucose or hyperglycemia. The higher blood glucose levels can cause the fetus to gain too much weight during the pregnancy.

Although gestational diabetes is a serious condition, you can learn how to take care of it and prevent problems for you and your baby. Because the placenta leaves your body when the baby is delivered, gestational diabetes usually goes away when the baby is born.


WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS FOR GESTATIONAL DIABETES?

Gestational diabetes isn’t caused by something you did or didn’t do, but there are risk factors for it.

Your chances of getting gestational diabetes rise if some of the following statements are true:
    I am overweight.
    I have a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes.
    My family background is African American, Asian American, Latino, Native American, or Pacific Islander.
    I’m 25 years old or older.
    I’ve had gestational diabetes before, or I’ve had a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds at birth.
    My blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes (prediabetes).

If you’ve had gestational diabetes you have a high chance of having it again in future pregnancies and getting type 2 diabetes later on.


What to Expect :-
WILL MY BABY BE BORN WITH DIABETES?

Gestational diabetes doesn’t cause diabetes in babies. However, babies of mothers with gestational diabetes have a higher chance of being very overweight and getting diabetes when they reach their teen years or early adulthood.


HOW CAN GESTATIONAL DIABETES AFFECT MY BABY?

Studies have shown that you can have a healthy baby if your blood glucose levels are in the target range. But if blood glucose stays high during pregnancy, babies can grow too large, making a vaginal delivery more difficult. In addition, they can have health problems at birth, such as breathing problems or blood glucose levels that are too low. Other conditions, such as a low level of calcium in the blood, jaundice (yellowing of the skin), and an abnormal increase in red blood cells, also can occur. Your doctor can do special tests after delivery to check for problems.


HOW CAN GESTATIONAL DIABETES AFFECT ME?

During pregnancy, gestational diabetes can increase your risk of high blood pressure and having a C-section.


Coping with gestational diabetes

Sometimes a diagnosis of gestational diabetes can lead to feelings of guilt, worry, and fear. You may feel overwhelmed by having to do even more to take care of yourself. Perhaps you’re worried about the baby’s health. Maybe your partner is troubled, too. If it’s been hard for you to cope with having gestational diabetes, talk to your health care provider about finding someone who can help you. Think about whether you’d like your partner to come with you when you see your health care team. The good news is that doctors know a lot about how to treat gestational diabetes. You and your health care team will be able to monitor the success of your efforts to reach your blood glucose goals.


WHAT SHOULD I TEST DURING MY PREGNANCY?
Blood Glucose Levels

Keeping track of your blood glucose levels will tell you whether your diabetes treatment is working. Some women have their glucose levels checked regularly by their health care team. Many women check blood glucose on their own, using a blood glucose meter. It’s a small machine that uses a tiny drop of blood to check your blood glucose and then displays your blood glucose level at that moment. To obtain a blood sample, you’ll use a device that pricks your skin. You’ll write down the results of your checks in a log book and review your records with your health care team.

The closer you get to your delivery date, the harder it is for your body to keep blood glucose levels close to normal. During the last 4 to 8 weeks of your pregnancy, high blood glucose levels can cause your baby to grow too large. Therefore, by doing everything you can to manage your blood glucose levels, you’ll lower the chances of health problems for you and your baby.


Ketone Levels

You may need to check for ketones, a substance in your urine. Having ketones means that your body is using fat for energy. This can happen if you’re not getting enough calories or if you’re not eating often enough. Ketones may be harmful for your baby.


WHAT CAN I EXPECT AFTER DELIVERY?

Your baby’s blood glucose will be checked right away after delivery. Your baby may need to go to the special care nursery for observation if the baby’s blood glucose level is too low.

It’s important that you have another blood check 6 weeks after delivery. You have a high chance of having gestational diabetes in future pregnancies and getting type 2 diabetes later on.

You should continue healthful eating and increase your physical activity after delivery. If you are overweight, any weight loss, even 10 pounds, may lower your chances of getting type 2 diabetes.