Gestational Diabetes & the Effects on the Baby

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Gestational diabetes is a condition that can develop during pregnancy. Diabetes is a disease characterized by having high blood glucose. Glucose gives us energy, but too much can be dangerous to your health. It can also increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. This is why is so important for pregnant women to understand gestational diabetes and the affects on the baby.

Risk Factors

  • Your doctor can help you determine whether you are at high risk of developing gestational diabetes. You could be at increased risk if you are African American, Latino, overweight, have higher than normal blood glucose, have had gestational diabetes before or have given birth to a baby weighing more than 9 lbs.

Risk to the Baby

  • Untreated gestational diabetes can cause serious problems like causing the baby you're carrying to grow very large, making labor and delivery difficult and dangerous. The baby could also be born with low blood glucose, or have trouble breathing. The brain depends on glucose to function properly. According to the University of Virginia Health System, too little glucose in a newborn could result in seizures, brain injuries and other defects.

Testing

  • The majority of pregnant women experience changes in weight and hormones; but sometimes the body has a hard time producing enough insulin. Your doctor or midwife should check your glucose level. You may take a fasting blood glucose test where you are instructed to go without food or drink for eight hours before the test. Another common test involves you drinking a sugary drink one hour before having your glucose level checked.

Treatment Options

  • The main objective in treating gestational diabetes is keeping blood glucose levels within normal range. WebMD states that the most effective ways to do this are through diet, exercise and insulin, if required.
    Your health care provider can teach you which foods to choose when planning your meals, how often to each and how much. You may be advised to include daily exercise in the form of walking, swimming or other activity you enjoy that's safe for you and your baby. If you need additional insulin, your doctor will show you how to give it to yourself.

Blood Glucose

  • Your health care provider can teach you how to use a blood glucose meter to check your own glucose levels throughout the day. You may use the meter, pricking your finger and testing a drop of blood. You'll find out what your target range is and how often you will need to check your blood glucose. You will usually check it as soon as you wake up, right before each meal, and one to two hours after each meal, according to WebMD. Record the results and share them with your heath care provider during well care visits.

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