Roughly 1 in 10 Americans are diagnosed with diabetes, and nearly 1 in 5 don’t know they have it yet. This is a high portion of the population and is certainly a concern for public health. But what about gestational diabetes that emerges in pregnancy? What are the symptoms, risks, and treatments available for those who encounter this condition while carrying a child?
In this blog, we outline the important things to know.
Explaining the condition
During pregnancy, 2-10% of women are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, a condition where your body doesn’t make enough insulin while carrying your soon-to-be child, leading to an array of health issues. As you may know from learning about standard forms of diabetes, insulin is what allows your cells to receive blood sugar, to then use for energy.
What causes this condition?
Because of the hormonal changes one undergoes during pregnancy, imbalances can occur. Your cells may develop insulin resistance, where they don’t use it as efficiently and therefore require more.
What are the risks?
Gestational diabetes can bring risks to both the pregnant parent and the baby. For pregnant individuals, you may get high blood pressure as a result. For the baby, they may develop low blood sugar, develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime, be born prematurely, or be born at a high weight which can result in a challenging and painful birth.
For many women, post-birth, this gestational diabetes subsides. However, about half of the women who develop this condition during pregnancy wind up with diabetes down the road.
How do I know if I have gestational diabetes?
Here’s the catch. No symptoms are associated with gestational diabetes, so you are unlikely to feel something and then detect it yourself. This may concern you as it can feel as though something can go wrong without you knowing, but don’t worry, blood tests can easily screen for this condition, and your doctor will check it for you.
For most people, this form of diabetes develops around week 24 during pregnancy, so you’ll be tested within that range unless you show earlier blood sugar level imbalances which could indicate that you are at higher risk.
It is routine to check for gestational diabetes, so you shouldn’t be too worried about it flying under the radar; however, it never hurts to bring it up to your doctor if you are particularly concerned.
What will doctors do to treat gestational diabetes, and how can I prevent it?
For those who are pregnant, many of the treatments look similar to the prevention methods when it comes to gestational diabetes. Following ongoing monitoring of blood sugar levels, pregnant individuals are advised to ensure an overall healthy lifestyle filled with nutritious foods in proper portions, moderate activity appropriate to their pregnancy level, and close monitoring of their baby’s growth from their doctor.
Here at Doudoukare Perinatal Services, we offer support and consultations for new parents while specializing in doula services in Central Massachusetts. Reach out to us to find out how we can support your journey.