Diabetes that affects pregnant women is referred to as gestational diabetes, or GD. This type of diabetes normally occurs in the late stages of pregnancy, starting in the twenty-fourth to twenty-eighth week of pregnancy. A diagnosis of gestational diabetes is a scary prospect for many expectant mothers, but sadly, it is a reality that soon-to-be parents face daily. Reports indicate that in the USA alone, approximately 140,000 women are diagnosed with gestational diabetes annually.
The cause of gestational diabetes is largely unknown, although there is some link to pregnancy hormones and the placenta. If your body is unable to make or use all the insulin it needs, glucose remaining in the blood eventually reaches abnormally high levels.
Unlike other health problems, gestational diabetes does not normally result in birth defects; however, it can have repercussions for the baby. Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes tend to be large and this can lead to injuries to the child’s shoulders during the normal birthing process. The babies can have jaundice, low glucose levels and higher insulin levels than is the norm, as well as breathing problems. It is also believed that babies born with high insulin levels are at a higher risk for obesity.
Gestational diabetes can also cause problems for the mother, as delivering a larger-than-normal baby can be difficult and, in many instances, results in a caesarian section. In addition, gestational diabetes increases the risk of developing type II diabetes later on in life.
Gestational diabetes or GD is a type of diabetes that affects only pregnant women. It is normally identified in the last few months before giving birth. However, like other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes is treated by a combination of medication, diet, and exercise. In general, a balanced diet is required with some foods avoided in preference of others. A medical practitioner will provide advice on maintenance and control during the pregnancy and, if required, after the birth of the baby.
Moderate exercise is also recommended to help control gestational diabetes, although previous levels of physical activity have to be taken into account. Physical activity helps the body use up the excess glucose without the need for extra insulin. If you were not exercising before you got pregnant, it would be unwise to start any strenuous exercise at this stage of your pregnancy.
It is also important to monitor your sugar level closely. Set up a routine so that you know when to test your glucose level.
A diagnosis of GD or gestational diabetes in one pregnancy is normally an indication that the same diagnosis will happen again in later pregnancies. However, gestational diabetes normally goes away within a few weeks of giving birth, although many women do later on develop type I or II diabetes during their lives.