Gestational Diabetes is high blood sugar that begins, or is first discovered during pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes can occur when pregnancy hormones hinder insulin from acting properly, causing increased glucose levels in the blood.
Risk Factors in Acquiring Gestational Diabetes:
Several factors may increase your risk for glucose intolerance. These factors include a mother who is pregnant over the age of 25, a family history of diabetes or high blood pressure, previously giving birth to a baby weighing over nine pounds, or having too much amniotic fluid. Other factors attributed to gestational diabetes are inexplicable stillbirths or miscarriages, or obesity before pregnancy.
Symptoms of High Blood Sugar:
Symptoms of gestational diabetes are often mild, unobvious, and non-life threatening to the mother. Women may experience blurred vision, fatigue, vaginal infections, increased thirst, frequent urination, and nausea. Blood sugar levels will usually return to normal levels after delivery.
When to Contact Your Doctor:
Call your healthcare provider if you are pregnant, think you may be pregnant and are diabetic, or are experiencing symptoms of gestational diabetes.
To ensure a safe pregnancy, women will receive a glucose tolerance test between 24 and 28 weeks of gestation. Women who demonstrate higher risks of gestational diabetes should be tested earlier to avoid further complications. If diagnosed, sugar levels must be checked frequently to monitor the baby’s progress. This can be done in the privacy of your own home by pricking your finger and testing a drop of blood.
There are various ways of treating women with gestational diabetes to keep blood sugar levels normal. Ultrasounds and non-stress tests are two common methods of monitoring health and size of the fetus. Diet and exercise are other ways to control glucose intolerance by limiting salt-intake. Your diet should be moderate in fat, protein, and certain carbohydrates. Avoid soft drinks, fruit juices, and pastries, which contain excess sugar. Your doctor will advise you to eat three small meals a day, with a snack or two in between. You may also be prescribed prenatal vitamins to ensure you are receiving adequate nutrients for you and your baby. For details on diet, please see Diabetes Diet-Gestational.
If diet and exercise are not sufficient enough to lower blood sugar levels, your physician may prescribe medication or insulin therapy.
Women with gestational diabetes tend to have larger babies and increased problems during delivery. Many times a C-Section is needed to avoid further complications during the birthing process. Babies are more likely to experience hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, a few days after birth. Newborn death is a risk in uncontrolled gestational diabetes. Most women, however, are able to control their blood sugar levels and avoid harm to themselves and their baby.
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