Gestational Diabetes: Causes and Treatment
Pregnancy is a very exciting and scary time as your body and your family size go through changes. However, as the mother’s body goes through many changes to prepare and then nurture the growing baby inside of her, she may experience some health issues. Gestational diabetes is one of those issues. It is a type of diabetes that only occurs during 4% of pregnancies, but can put you and your baby at risk during the pregnancy. This type of diabetes is not passed on to the child and often the mother doesn’t continue to deal with it once the baby is born. There is a higher chance, once you’ve had gestational diabetes, that you will develop type 2 diabetes, but that is uncertain.
By controlling your gestational diabetes, you will have a very high chance of remaining healthy and having a healthy baby, too!
Causes of Gestational Diabetes
There are a number of factors you can assess to determine if you may be at risk for developing gestational diabetes. These risk factors include:
- History of gestational diabetes (previous pregnancy)
- Family history of type 2 diabetes
- Having prediabetes – your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes; this condition is associated with being overweight.
If you identify that you have one of these factors, your risk of gestational diabetes is high. Other causes of gestational diabetes are thought to be hormonal changes which can cause women to become resistant to insulin. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that helps the body metabolize glucose and make it into energy. When the body becomes resistant to insulin, or insulin is low, the body’s glucose levels rise.
There are no signs or symptoms of gestational diabetes, so it’s important to go to your regularly scheduled check-ups with your health care provider to be tested for this condition.
Effects of Gestational Diabetes on the Baby
Many women with gestational diabetes have no complications and deliver healthy babies, says www.Diabetes.org. However, changes in the mother’s body can certainly affect the baby. Women who have high levels of glucose during the pregnancy can affect the fetus, and the fetus can also have high glucose levels. This can cause the baby to be bigger than normal, which may cause complications in delivery. The baby can also experience low blood glucose after birth, which may cause other complications. If the gestational diabetes is not controlled during the pregnancy, the newborn can be jaundiced, have a higher chance of respiratory syndrome, have a higher chance of dying before or after delivery, and a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes later in their life.
Effects of Gestational Diabetes on the Mother
Some ways that gestational diabetes can affect the mother include higher risk of needing a C-section (Cesarean birth), risk of preeclamsia, a condition where you have high blood pressure during pregnancy, and an increased risk of having type 2 diabetes after the pregnancy or later in life.
Gestational Diabetes Treatments
Dealing with gestational diabetes along with the other health changes and challenges of being pregnant can be overwhelming. Yet, with proper care, information, and treatment, you can manage this condition and keep you and your baby healthy. Self-care treatments for gestational diabetes include eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. By modifying your nutritional plan, most women are able to manage this condition. However, if it doesn’t help, your doctor may prescribe you an insulin therapy as a form of gestational diabetes treatment.