A lot of people that have never been pregnant have no clue on what gestational diabetes is, nevertheless heard of it before.  The word “diabetes” can be scary for the general public and that is why we want to ease your nerves, explain what gestational diabetes is and what you can do to control your diabetes throughout the pregnancy.

Did you know that according to a 2014 analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of gestational diabetes is up to a high of 9.2% of pregnant women?  This makes Gestational Diabetes one of the most common health problems of pregnancy.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Pregnant women who have never had diabetes before but who have high blood glucose levels during the pregnancy are said to have gestational diabetes.  Experts still haven’t been able to figure out the exact reason why women develop gestational diabetes while they are pregnant but they believe it has to do with insulin resistance. When you are pregnant, the placenta supports the baby as it grows. Hormones from the placenta then help the baby to grow at the right speed. The problem is when the hormones also block the action of the mother’s insulin in her body which is called insulin resistance. Gestational diabetes starts when your body is not able to made and use all of the insulin it needs for the pregnancy. Without enough of the insulin, glucose cannot leave the blood and will be changed into energy.

Getting Tested for Gestational Diabetes

Surprisingly enough, it is mandatory for all doctors to screen you for gestational diabetes while you are pregnant. Some argue that it might not be necessary to test women under the age of 25 and have no risk factors but as of now you must have a glucose-screening test.  Your doctor will likely evaluate your risk factors for gestational diabetes early in your pregnancy.

If you’re at high risk of gestational diabetes, your doctor may test for diabetes at your first prenatal visit.  To be considered “high risk” you might fall under one or all of the following factors.

·         You’re obese (your body mass index is over 30).

·         You’ve had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy.

·         You have sugar in your urine.

·         You have a strong family history of diabetes.

·         You’ve previously given birth to a big baby.

·         You’ve had an unexplained stillbirth.

·         You’ve had a baby with a birth defect.

·         You have high blood pressure.

·         You’re over 35.

If you’re at average risk of gestational diabetes, you’ll likely have a screening test during your second trimester — between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.

Routing Screening for Gestational Diabetes

Right before you go in for your glucose screening test your nerves will be going through the roof. Try to stay calm while taking the test because the nerves could indeed affect the test results.  When you arrive for your test you will be given an extremely sugary drink that is commonly compared to a sweet soda pop.

The medical staff will give you a time frame (such as 5 minutes) to get the entire drink down. An hour later a blood sample is taken from your arm to check your blood sugar level. The idea is to see how efficiently your body processes sugar. The results should be available in a few days, but could take a little longer. If the reading is too high, which happens 15 to 23 percent of the time, you’ll be asked to come back for a three-hour glucose tolerance test to see whether you really do have gestational diabetes.

Don’t worry right away if you get called back for the 2nd test because most women whose screening test shows elevated blood sugar don’t turn out to have gestational diabetes!  Just a little warning that it is very common to feel sick and nauseous after the test because of all the sugar, try to eat a few hours before and get a good night sleep!

Treatment and Ways to Control Your Gestational Diabetes

Gestational Diabetes can be extremely harmful to not all you but your baby as well if not controlled and that is why it is very important to get treatment right away. Treatment for gestational diabetes aims to keep blood glucose levels equal to those of pregnant women who do not have gestational diabetes.  Treatment for gestational diabetes always includes special meal replacements and scheduled physical activity.  Do not worry about figuring out your new meal plan on your own, you’re doctor will refer to you a dietician who will help  you plan out your daily sugar/ carbohydrate intake to keep your sugars as low as possible.  You will be asked to test your glucose level around 3 times a day.

If you’re having trouble controlling your blood sugar even after taking control of your diet and exercise, you may need to take insulin. Your doctor will likely recommend frequent checkups, especially during your last three months of pregnancy. During these exams, your doctor will monitor your blood sugar as well.

How Gestational Diabetes Can Affect You and Your Baby

You have to remember not to panic when if you get diagnosed with gestational diabetes and try to remember that most women that have gestational diabetes end up with having very healthy pregnancies and babies.  Because your baby may be larger than normal, he or she is at higher risk for some complications that are listed below. It is important to remember that these are just POSSIBLE complications and it may be that your baby might not have any of them.

·         Injuries during delivery because of the baby’s size

·         Low blood sugar and mineral levels at birth

·         Jaundice

·         Pre-term birth

·         Temporary breathing problems

Gestational Diabetes can increase the chance of certain pregnancy complications as well. Some of these risks include:

·         Higher chance of needing a C-section

·         Miscarriage

·         High blood pressure or preeclampsia

·         Pre-term birth

Just remember to be extremely healthy during your pregnancy because it can not only affect you but your baby as well. As long as you keep up with the proper meal plans and stay active, your sugar levels should stay at a maintained level!

Once you have the Baby…

Your doctor will check your blood sugar after delivery and again in six to 12 weeks to make sure that your level has returned to normal. If your tests are normal, in which cases they most likely are, you will need to have your diabetes risk assessed at least every three years. While gestational diabetes is a cause for concern, the good news is that you and your health care team work together to lower your high blood glucose levels. And with this help, you can turn your concern into a healthy pregnancy for you, and a healthy start for your baby.!