What You Should Know About Gestational Diabetes
What Is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a condition where a woman has elevated blood sugar levels during pregnancy. This is a common pregnancy complication. It can lead to other complications, such as excessive weight gain and preterm birth. Fortunately, most mothers are able to deliver healthy babies despite their condition.
The effects of this condition are usually temporary. A woman’s blood sugar usually returns to normal after she gives birth. However, women who have diabetes while they are pregnant are at an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Causes Of Gestational Diabetes
Doctors do not know what exactly causes gestational diabetes. However, they have found that the hormonal changes in pregnancy can possibly impair insulin function. Gestational diabetes is typically diagnosed after the 20th week, but it can develop earlier.
Diagnosing Gestational Diabetes
Most practitioners recommend that pregnant women take a glucose-screening test. The oral glucose tolerance test is a common way that healthcare providers screen for diabetes in pregnant women. Women who take this test will be required to fast overnight. This test requires that one ingest a syrupy solution. The blood sugar will then be checked every hour for three hours. If a woman’s blood sugar is elevated, then she will likely have to take another test. Two tests are typically recommended in order to confirm a diabetes diagnosis.
The key to preventing complications is to monitor your blood sugar frequently. Healthcare providers often recommend that pregnant women with diabetes check their blood sugar four or five times per day. Exercising and eating right will also help pregnant women keep their blood sugar under control.
If healthy lifestyle changes are not enough to keep the blood sugar under control, then medication may be recommended. It is estimated that 10 to 20 percent of pregnant women with this condition need insulin. Furthermore, your healthcare provider will have to monitor you and your baby very closely. You may have to be induced before your due date in order to prevent complications.
Preventing Gestational Diabetes
There is no surefire way to prevent gestational diabetes. However, you can drastically decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes by living a healthy lifestyle. Exercising and eating right are the best things you can do to keep your blood sugar within a healthy range.