January 5, 2022
Gestational Diabetes 101
Learn all about gestational diabetes and how it could affect your pregnancy.
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It’s a good idea to be aware of gestational diabetes if you’re pregnant – even if you’ve never needed to think about diabetes or prediabetes before. This condition doesn’t just affect women who already had diabetes before their pregnancy; instead, it affects about four percent of all pregnancies. And while it’s similar to the other types of diabetes in some ways, it also comes with some crucial differences.
The best way to prepare for potential gestational diabetes is to understand this condition and know how to deal with it. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about diagnosing and managing gestational diabetes.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
At the most basic level, “gestational diabetes” is simply diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy. However, that’s not all it is. This type of diabetes has some unique traits that stand out from other diabetes types, and a thorough understanding of these traits is key to successful gestational diabetes management.
Right now, we don’t know what factors trigger gestational diabetes. That said, there is an understanding that this condition is related to hormonal changes during pregnancy. Since there are links between hormones and blood sugar management, changes in hormone levels can lead to the development of diabetes.
Fortunately, you won’t need to request gestational diabetes testing after you get pregnant. All pregnant women receive gestational diabetes screenings between the 24th week and 28th week of their pregnancies.
Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes
One unusual element of gestational diabetes is its symptoms – or the lack thereof. In most cases, women with gestational diabetes don’t have observable symptoms. Still, some women can experience symptoms like increased frequency of urination and excessive thirst while dealing with gestational diabetes.
Gestational Diabetes Risk Factors
Not everyone has the same risk of gestational diabetes. Some notable potential risk factors are:
- Relatively high body fat levels (pre-pregnancy)
- A diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome
- A lack of regular exercise
- Having previously dealt with gestational diabetes
- A family history of diabetes
The Importance of Treating Gestational Diabetes
While the condition often doesn’t have symptoms, you can’t afford to ignore a diagnosis of gestational diabetes during your pregnancy. That’s because the complications of gestational diabetes can affect both you and your baby if you don’t take steps to treat this disease in the coming months.
Complications that could affect you include:
- Preeclampsia/high blood pressure
- Greater likelihood of a C-section
- Heightened risk of gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes
On the other hand, your child could be affected by:
- Low blood sugar
- Breathing issues
- Overweight or early birth
- Elevated type 2 diabetes risk
Gestational Diabetes Management
After learning that you have gestational diabetes, you’ll need to work with your healthcare provider to create a diabetes management strategy.
Patients can control the condition purely with lifestyle changes in about 70 to 85 percent of gestational diabetes cases. One of the most effective lifestyle improvements is regular exercise – try to get two and a half hours of physical activity during the week, if not more.
Along with an exercise program, even simple dietary changes can help you handle gestational diabetes. Instead of trying trendy diets like the keto diet, focus on eating a balanced diet that contains healthy portions of fruits, vegetables, proteins (especially plant-based proteins), healthy fats, and whole grains.
For some people with gestational diabetes, lifestyle changes alone aren’t enough to help them manage this condition. Most people in this category will receive a prescription for one or more medications. Insulin (which doesn’t cross the placenta) is the most common recommendation, but glyburide and metformin are used in some cases.
What Happens After Your Pregnancy?
From what we know right now, type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes aren’t reversible diseases – if you get diagnosed with one of these conditions, you’ll need to manage it for the rest of your life. However, that’s not usually the case for gestational diabetes. Somewhere between six and 12 weeks after you give birth, your doctor will take another look at your blood glucose levels. If they’ve returned to normal, you’ll no longer have to manage gestational diabetes.
Still, this doesn’t mean you’re entirely out of the woods. Roughly half of all women who have gestational diabetes while pregnant get diagnosed with type 2 diabetes five to 10 years later. Because of this, you’ll need to go through a diabetes risk assessment once every three years to make sure your blood glucose levels stay where they should.
Whether gestational diabetes goes away after your pregnancy or continues to affect you in the future, you’ll need to find a supplier you can trust for diabetes supplies. US MED has been active in this industry for over two decades, and we’ve earned an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. If you need anything from diabetes testing supplies to CGM systems, order your supplies from our online store today!