How Does Gestational Diabetes Affect Me?

“Pregnant women who have never had diabetes before but who have high blood glucose (sugar) levels during pregnancy are said to have gestational diabetes” (ADA, 2016). Gestational diabetes develops while the woman is pregnant. Gestational diabetes occurs because the body naturally resists insulin when a woman is pregnant. The body tries to keep more glucose in the blood system in order to give nutrients to the developing baby through the placenta.

Women are able to limit the effects of gestational diabetes by making healthy lifestyle choices. However, the condition can cause some issues for the mother. Gestational diabetes increases the chance of pregnancy complications.

According to WebMD, “possible risks include: higher chance of needing a C-section, miscarriage, high blood pressure or preeclampsia, [and] pre-term birth” (WebMD, 2016).

C-sections are more common because the baby grows larger than normal. The baby’s size can cause difficulties going through the birth canal. Therefore, C-sections end up becoming more common. For this same reason, pre-term births are also common.

However, Web MD states, “Although you do have a greater chance of needing a C-section, many women with gestational diabetes have regular vaginal births” (WebMD, 2016). Therefore, it is important to ask questions of your physician on the benefits and negatives of getting a C-section for your child and you.

The mother also faces risks of high blood pressure. This can lead to complications for both the mother and the baby. According to the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, high blood pressure or preeclampsia can lead to possible death for both the mother and baby (MFMER, Apr 2014). Preeclampsia is “a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, often the kidneys” (MFMER, Jul 2014)

If a woman is diagnosed with gestational diabetes, she also has a higher chance of type 2 diabetes later on in life.

There is some great news for mothers with gestational diabetes. Everything that benefits you will also benefit your child. By exercising daily and eating a healthy diet, mothers can help burn the excess energy being produced inside of them and the baby. Also, by eating healthy foods and a low-protein diet, mothers can help limit the effects of gestational diabetes. Most mothers with gestational diabetes end up delivering a healthy baby.

According to the American Diabetes Association, up to 9.2% of women have gestational diabetes (ADA, 2016). You are not alone! There are plenty of resources to help you take the steps necessary to have a healthy baby.

Gestational diabetes should be taken seriously. Doctors normally test between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy. Therefore, having great communication with your doctor can help you make leaps forward.

A lot of the symptoms of gestational diabetes can cause several complications. However, if a mother takes steps towards a healthier lifestyle, it will reduce the risks substantially. Therefore, maintaining a healthy diet, at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week, and good communication with doctors should help you have the healthiest baby possible!