While a woman is pregnant, she can develop gestational diabetes, a temporary condition causing her blood sugar levels to increase. This can cause problems, and it can harm both the mother and baby. If you are considering pregnancy, learn how pregnant women can prevent gestational diabetes.
Causes for Gestational Diabetes
During pregnancy your body needs more hormones and this causes the cells in your body to use insulin less effectively. This is known as insulin resistance, and it increases your body’s need for insulin. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas which manages blood sugar to use it as energy.
If a woman begins her pregnancy with insulin resistance, she will have an increased need for insulin and most likely will develop gestational diabetes.
Capital Women’s Care will test for gestational diabetes if anything in your health history indicates you could develop it.
Who’s at Higher Risk to Develop Gestational Diabetes?
If you are overweight prior to pregnancy, have a family member with type 2 diabetes, or if you are 25 or older, you are at risk for gestational diabetes.
If you had abnormal blood tests prior to pregnancy, had gestational diabetes with a prior pregnancy, have high blood pressure, or if you already have had a large baby (9 pounds or more), or a stillbirth, you are also at risk for gestational diabetes.
Lastly, if you are Hispanic, African American, Native American, Asian, or Pacific Islander, this increases your risk.
Preventing Gestational Diabetes
It isn’t completely preventable, but there are some strategies you can try to lower your risk before you become pregnant.
They include the following:
- If you are overweight or obese, discuss with Capital Women’s Care how to manage your weight since even a few pounds can make a difference. However, once you are pregnant, don’t try to lose weight unless your doctor recommends it.
- Eat a healthy diet of lean protein, fruits and veggies, and whole grains.
- Begin a moderate exercise program of 30 to 60 minutes three times a week. Regular physical activity will lower your risk for gestational diabetes by controlling blood sugar.
How Gestational Diabetes Affects Your Baby (and You)
The precautions to help you prevent or manage gestational diabetes are important. There can be serious consequences. There is an association with gestational diabetes and your baby growing very large (macrosomia) which in turn can necessitate an emergency C-section.
The baby may also have breathing problems, jaundice, and lower blood glucose levels at birth. In addition, your baby may need to stay in the NICU for an extended amount of time if the gestational diabetes has not been managed properly.
Talk with Capital Women’s Care before getting pregnant if you have any risk factors for gestational diabetes. Protect yourself and your baby. Call (301) 424-3444 (Rockville) or (301) 593-5595 (Silver Spring) to schedule an appointment.