Having a child can be a very exciting time for many women and their partners, but is not without the potential for worries and medical complications.
This is why it is important to see your OBGYN regularly throughout your pregnancy to screen for potential problems, like gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs when a patient is diagnosed as diabetic for the first time while they are pregnant. Like all other forms of diabetes, gestational diabetes causes high blood sugar and makes it more difficult for your cells to process glucose. High blood sugar during pregnancy can be dangerous for both the mother and fetus, but symptoms can be controlled. Gestational diabetes can cause difficulties during delivery, so it's important to be screened regularly.
Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes
Similar to other forms of diabetes, gestational diabetes can lay dormant and not cause any significant symptoms in patients. However, an increase in thirst and urination may occur in some patients. Some pregnant women may also experience:
- Excessive fatigue
- Sugar in their urine
- Frequent yeast infections
- Blurred vision
- Bladder or skin infections
If you have uncontrolled gestational diabetes, your baby may weigh an excessive amount at birth, which could require you to have a C-section. Some infants are also born with respiratory distress syndrome, a serious breathing condition. Unfortunately, children of mothers with untreated gestational diabetes are at greater risk of being born prematurely, being stillborn, and having issues with their weight later in life. On the other hand, some children will develop hypoglycemia, which is excessively low blood sugar. Jaundice in infants may also occur. Women who follow the advice of their doctor are significantly more likely to give birth to healthy infants.
For the mother, gestational diabetes could not only send you into labor early or require a C-section, but may also cause you to develop preeclampsia or hypertension. Women who develop this form of diabetes will typically have to be induced instead of letting their pregnancy progress past their due date. Gestational diabetes also puts you at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. Many women have risk factors that make them more likely to develop gestational diabetes, so it's vital to be honest with your doctor about your medical history and any previous complications.
Handling Gestational Diabetes
While a diagnosis of gestational diabetes may have you down, it isn't a life sentence. For a good chunk of women, diabetes will resolve on its own after delivery. While pregnant, it is important to stay active by exercising daily. This could mean going on walks, doing simple cardio, or swimming laps at the pool. Eating more fruits and vegetables has shown to improve outcomes in pregnancies with gestational diabetes, as well as adding more fiber, lean meats, and keeping portions small.
Gestational diabetes is preventable by starting your pregnancy at a healthy weight. If you are overweight or obese, shedding a few pounds before getting pregnant could help stave off diabetes. Avoiding gaining weight quickly while pregnant can also help. Some women will need to take hormone supplements while they are pregnant if exercise and healthy eating don't help. After giving birth, make sure to attend follow up visits with the pediatrician to make sure your baby hasn't developed any complications from gestational diabetes.