What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. Your body is unable to produce enough insulin to handle the changing hormones and the effects of a growing baby. Insulin plays a key role in controlling the level of glucose in your blood. Without enough insulin, your blood glucose levels will rise. Gestational diabetes tends to be more common in the third trimester.
Who has a higher risk of getting gestational diabetes?
You are more likely to have gestational diabetes if you have a family history of type 2 diabetes, are overweight (high BMI), previously had gestational diabetes, personal history of polycycstic ovary syndrome, or if you are 35 years or older.
How is it tested?
It is generally recommended for women to be screened at 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy through an oral glucose tolerance test. This test involves fasting for about 8 – 12 hours, then ingesting a glucose solution within a few minutes. Blood samples are drawn before and 1-2 hours after taking the glucose solution. The glucose levels in your blood are then tested which helps give an indication if your body can produce sufficient insulin.
For those with a high risk of gestational diabetes, your doctor may ask you to conduct a test in an earlier stage of pregnancy.
What does this mean for my baby?
If left untreated, it can increase the risk of the following conditions:
- The baby being too large (>4kg) resulting in a difficult delivery.
- The baby can have low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) immediately after birth.
- Increase risk of getting jaundice and respiratory distress syndrome.
- It can also increase the risk of your baby developing type 2 diabetes in the future.
However, don’t worry as gestational diabetes can be properly managed and you can expect to have a healthy baby!
How to manage gestational diabetes?
- Eating healthy meals – (choose high fiber, low glycemic index, lean protein foods!) This includes leafy greens, whole grains, less fruit, less white bread/pasta/rice, eggs, chicken breast, lentils and beans! Also, eating smaller meals and snacks can help!
- Checking your glucose levels at home with a blood glucose meter.
- Be physically active – regular exercise can help you sleep better, boost your energy, reduce stress and pregnancy discomfort
- Taking insulin if advised from your healthcare provider
- Taking a prenatal vitamin, like Prenatal Ease Stage 3, with a good source of chromium as it’s an essential mineral in regulating blood sugar.