Gestational diabetes occurs in approximately 4% of all pregnancies, and is a condition that is characterized by high blood sugar levels first recognized during pregnancy. For most women who do not have diabetes, gestational diabetes is not a concern during pregnancy. Almost all women have some degree of impaired glucose intolerance during pregnancy due to hormonal changes, but these changes are not high enough to be diabetes. However, if a woman’s body is not able to produce enough insulin in the system, blood sugar levels will rise and will result in gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes in the second and third trimester can lead to over-nutrition and excess growth of a baby. Babies that grow very large within a mother’s womb increases the likelihood for a caesarean delivery. Large babies often will not fit through a mother’s birth canal making it necessary to deliver by C-section instead of vaginally. In addition, when a baby is exposed to high insulin levels within the womb, the baby can have a sudden drop in blood sugar after birth because it will not be receiving the high blood sugar it has become accustomed to. However, doctors are well prepared to handle this drop in blood sugar and will be able to treat the baby immediately should it occur.
Women who test positive for gestational diabetes will have to monitor their blood sugar levels four times a day. They will need to follow specific dietary guidelines given by their doctor in order to keep blood sugar at an optimal level. Many women are able to completely control their gestational diabetes with diet. However, some women will need to take insulin to control their blood sugar levels.
Women with gestational diabetes are able to have full-term, healthy pregnancies and are able to give birth to perfectly healthy babies. With close monitoring of their blood sugar levels and close monitoring of the baby by doctors, gestational diabetes does not mean that anything will go wrong. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you will greatly increase the percentage of overcoming gestational diabetes with a beautiful and healthy baby.
Posted on behalf of Sean Lambert M.D., North Pointe OB/GYN Associates