Here at the Memphis Obstetrics and Gynecological Association, we’re passionate about keeping our amazing patients informed on the topics that are of the most significant concern to them. Nothing can be more exciting and potentially overwhelming than pregnancy, even if everything goes as smoothly as you want. And unfortunately, for up to ten percent of all pregnancies in the United States, gestational diabetes can be a significant challenge. But it’s not one you have to go through alone. Let’s learn a little more about it, what to do about it, and how you can stay happy and healthy for you and your baby.
Gestational Diabetes – What is It?
If you’ve been diagnosed for the first time with diabetes while you’re pregnant, then you have gestational diabetes. The exact cause is unknown, but much like other types of diabetes, it affects how your body deals with sugar (glucose), making it difficult to regulate its blood sugar levels properly. Luckily, gestational diabetes is entirely manageable with proper diet, treatment, and careful monitoring from your healthcare provider.
How Do I Know I Have Gestational Diabetes
It can be challenging to detect, as it often doesn’t manifest with overtly noticeable signs or symptoms. Again, much like with other forms of diabetes, if you notice a significantly increased thirst or more-frequent urination, this could be a sign of gestational diabetes. This is why it’s essential to seek medical care early during your pregnancy and work closely with your doctor to ensure everything goes smoothly. The last thing you want is for a case of gestational diabetes to go undiagnosed.
It’s important to remember that just because you’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, it doesn’t mean that you had diabetes prior to pregnancy, and it doesn’t mean that you’ll have diabetes after you’ve given birth. Know that while something like ten percent of all women deal with gestational diabetes, most cases of gestational diabetes will resolve either during pregnancy or shortly after that.
What Are Some Risk Factors for Gestational Diabetes?
The exact cause of gestational diabetes is unknown, but research suggests that the role of weight is significant in developing the condition. As with other forms of diabetes, being overweight or experiencing substantial weight gain can lead to trouble regulating blood sugar levels, making it more likely to develop diabetes. During pregnancy, hormone levels in the body fluctuate rapidly and often, which can make it more likely for the body to experience difficulty self-regulating.
Suppose you or someone in your family is overweight or obese. In that case, if you aren’t getting enough physical activity if you’ve already had gestational diabetes in a prior pregnancy, or if you’re suffering from one of a number of different prior conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome, you may be at risk of developing it.
Why it Matters
If you develop gestational diabetes, it’s important to remember that you’re one of millions of women who do and that most cases go away on their own during or after pregnancy. However, if you do develop gestational diabetes, it’s vital to work closely with your provider to monitor your blood sugar levels. If your blood sugar levels are allowed to go unchecked, this can lead to severe complications for you and your baby. Some of the difficulties associated with it include:
- Low birth weight
- Early birth
- Respiratory distress
- Blood sugar problems for the baby, as well as increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes or obesity
Reduce the Risk, Manage the Disease
While you can never be sure that you won’t develop gestational diabetes, there are a number of different habits you can employ to reduce your risk or manage any potential complications should you develop it. These include strategies such as:
- Healthy Eating: Choose foods high in fiber, low in fat and calories, focusing on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Watch portion sizes and strive for variety to maintain taste and nutrition.
- Staying Active: Regular physical activity before and during pregnancy can help protect you from developing gestational diabetes. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days of the week, such as brisk walking or swimming.
- Starting Pregnancy at a Healthy Weight: Losing extra weight beforehand can lead to a healthier pregnancy. Make lasting changes to your eating habits, such as consuming more vegetables and fruits.
- Mindful Weight Gain: Gaining a reasonable amount of weight during pregnancy is normal and healthy. We’ll work with you to determine what’s best for your individual needs.
Memphis Obstetrics and Gynecological Association is Here to Help!
The thought of developing or dealing with gestational diabetes can be scary, but you’re never alone with MOGA. We’re a leading provider of gynecological and obstetric care, and our doctors are leaders in the field who combine expertise with care, consideration, and a ready ear. Give us a call today to ensure that you and your baby have everything you need for a happy and healthy pregnancy or for any other needs you may have related to women’s health. We’re here for you!