Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. It is caused by the body’s inability to produce or use insulin effectively. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body to use glucose for energy.
Gestational diabetes is a common condition, affecting about 9% of pregnancies in the United States. It is usually diagnosed during the second or third trimester of pregnancy.
Women with gestational diabetes are at increased risk for complications during pregnancy and childbirth. These complications can include:
- Large baby (macrosomia)
- Premature birth
- C-section delivery
- Congenital disabilities
- Type 2 diabetes later in life
The good news is that gestational diabetes can be managed with diet, exercise, and insulin therapy. By managing their blood sugar levels, women with gestational diabetes can reduce their risk of complications and have a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes
Many women with gestational diabetes do not have any symptoms. However, some women may experience the following symptoms:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Extreme hunger
- Unexplained weight loss
- Blurred vision
- Slow-healing sores
You must see your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment of gestational diabetes are essential to prevent serious complications.
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Diagnosing Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes is diagnosed with a blood test called a glucose challenge test. This test is usually done between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.
If you have a positive glucose challenge test, you will need to take a follow-up test called a 3-hour glucose tolerance test. This test will confirm whether or not you have gestational diabetes.
Treating Gestational Diabetes
The goal of treatment for gestational diabetes is to keep blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible. This can be done with diet, exercise, and insulin therapy.
The first step in treating gestational diabetes is to change your diet. You will need to eat a healthy diet low in sugar and carbohydrates. You must also spread your meals and snacks evenly throughout the day.
Exercise is also an essential part of treating gestational diabetes. Exercise helps to lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
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You may need insulin injections if diet and exercise are insufficient to control your blood sugar levels. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body to use glucose for energy.
Managing Gestational Diabetes During Pregnancy
If you have gestational diabetes, you must see your doctor more often during pregnancy. Your doctor will monitor your blood sugar levels and ensure your baby is developing typically.
You must also learn how to manage your blood sugar levels at home. This may involve checking your blood sugar levels several times daily and adjusting your diet and exercise as needed.
Managing Gestational Diabetes After Pregnancy
Most women with gestational diabetes will return to normal blood sugar levels after their baby is born. However, you are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
It is essential to continue eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly after pregnancy to help prevent type 2 diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is common but can be managed with diet, exercise, and insulin therapy. By managing your blood sugar levels, you can reduce your risk of complications and have a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
If you have any questions or concerns about gestational diabetes, please talk to your doctor. They can provide you with more information and support.
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