Gestational Diabetes

Gestational Diabetes

When you’re an expecting mom-to-be, you’re focused on getting ready for your little one. You probably pay attention to the foods you eat. You take your prenatal vitamins. You exercise and get plenty of sleep. You do it all to deliver a healthy baby.

So, if you’re healthy and not living with diabetes, why would the disease be on your radar? It turns out pregnant women have a risk for diabetes. Not Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, but gestational diabetes.

About 10 percent of pregnancies are affected by it. Like the other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes alters the way your cells use sugar (glucose).

While there are some health problems, such as obesity, that have a clear link to gestational diabetes, experts aren’t sure what exactly causes moms-to-be to develop the condition. It may be caused by pregnancy hormones. They can prevent the body from making enough insulin.

When the mother’s body can’t make and use all the insulin it needs, glucose can’t move from the blood stream into cells to fuel them energy. Instead, glucose builds up in the blood and cells starve. High blood sugar can harm your health and the health of your baby.

In many cases, sugar levels return to normal after birth. Some women can develop Type 2 diabetes, though.

When blood sugar is controlled during their pregnancy, most women with gestational diabetes have healthy babies. Without treatment, the baby could have blood sugar, feeding, breathing and heart problems at birth.

It’s vital to work with your doctor to keep your blood sugar level in a safe range. A healthy eating plan and regular exercise are two ways. Be sure to check your blood sugar level and take insulin medication if your doctor prescribes it.

Here’s the good news: Gestational diabetes is treatable. Most importantly, millions of women with gestational diabetes have delivered a healthy baby.

Sources: Gestational Diabetes, leaving site iconAmerican Diabetes Association

Originally published 4/4/2019; Revised 2022, 2024

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