What Is Gestational Diabetes?

What Is Gestational Diabetes?

What is Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes, which develops during pregnancy, is a condition that affects how the body’s cells use glucose. Those who develop gestational diabetes may experience high blood sugar, which affects the health of both mother and baby. Fortunately, this condition can be controlled and blood sugar returns to normal after the child is delivered.

Symptoms Of Gestational Diabetes In Moms

In most cases of gestational diabetes, no obvious symptoms are present. Although no symptoms occur, tests are administered to all expectant mothers to check for elevated blood sugar levels. Many doctors would recommend that any woman wanting to become pregnant should see a professional in order to evaluate the risk of developing gestational diabetes. For those who do not choose to do so, checking for gestational diabetes is part of routine prenatal care at about 24 weeks. Expectant mothers who develop this condition can easily learn to manage their blood sugar with the help of healthy eating, exercise and in some cases medication.

Risk Factors

Although any woman can develop gestational diabetes, some are at a higher risk than others are.

Risk factors of developing gestational diabetes are:

Pre-diabetes: slightly elevated blood sugar.
Carrying excess weight: Being significantly overweight increases the chances of developing gestational diabetes
Those older than 25 years of age
Those who are not Caucasian: Although the reason remains unknown, women who are not Caucasian in race have a higher risk of developing this condition.

Mothers with gestational diabetes have a high chance of delivering healthy babies but complications are still possible.

Complications that of gestational diabetes that affect the child include:

Hypoglycemia: Babies of mothers with gestational diabetes can develop hypoglycemia, which is low blood sugar.
Preterm birth: Mother’s with high blood sugar may go into labor early and deliver the child before the due date. Doctors may also recommend early delivery if the baby is growing too large.
Excessive birth weight: Extra glucose in the mother’s bloodstream can trigger their baby to grow too large too quickly. This is a result of the baby’s pancreas making excess insulin
Jaundice: Although not a huge concern, jaundice should be monitored carefully.

Mothers with gestational diabetes can also experience serious complications.

These complications are:

Pre-eclampsia
Eclampsia
Diabetes

Overall, gestational diabetes is a condition that should be taken seriously. Although there is a risk of complications that can affect both mother and child, it can be easily managed. In most cases, a great meal plan can control the condition and keep both mother and baby is good health. Eating right is a crucial step to controlling gestational diabetes.

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Gestational Diabetes Symptoms: Do You Have Them?

Gestational Diabetes Symptoms: Do You Have Them?

What is Gestational Diabetes?gestational diabetes symptoms

This is a specific type of diabetes that occurs in women during pregnancy. Basically, it is caused by hormones that occur during pregnancy that block insulin from doing its job in breaking down blood sugar. This leads to a condition of diabetes that a woman may have when pregnant, and usually clears up once the child is born.

Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes

The symptoms that will be experienced are much the same as with diabetes in general. You can have an increase in thirst. There will also be an increase in the frequency of urination that is disproportional to the amount of liquids that are consumed. Fatigue will set in with occasional blurred vision. Nausea and weight loss can also be symptoms of gestational diabetes. Many of these symptoms can be mild and easily confused with the effects of being pregnant.

Risk Factors for Gestational Diabetes

The symptoms alone are not enough to indicate a problem. In fact, because they are often so mild, they usually mean nothing, but when accompanied by risk factors, your health care provider needs to be informed. Among these factors are having diabetes in your family, being overweight before your pregnancy and having high blood pressure. A doctor can look at your medical history to determine what other factors may be applicable to your pregnancy.

Why Treatment is Needed for Gestational Diabetes

For the sake of the child as well as the mother, this type of diabetes needs to be controlled. Doctors will usually test pregnant women by the 24th week.  Without a diagnosis and treatment, a woman can give birth to a baby that is much larger than it would normally have been with complications. In many cases, the baby will not be able to be born vaginally. This increase in size is due to the high levels of sugar in the mother’s blood. This provides much greater energy than a baby requires for normal growth. A baby will often have a condition of low blood sugar levels after birth. This is due to the baby’s pancreas producing high levels of insulin in response to the mother’s blood sugar, then at birth the amount of sugar in the child’s blood is suddenly low so they need additional sugar water or breastmilk at birth.

The Fundamental Treatment for Gestational Diabetes

There are several treatments used to control gestational diabetes, but fundamental to all of them is with diet. In fact, with a proper diet and monitoring of your blood sugar, most women can keep the problem under control. In general, a diet that is low to moderate in both fat and protein is needed. Carbohydrates are obtained from fruits and whole grains. All food with sugar is avoided or completely eliminated such as soda pop, candy, donuts and other sugary snacks.

gestational diabetes symptomsThere are medications that can be prescribed to a pregnant woman to keep her blood sugar levels from getting too high, but these should not be used to control high blood sugar levels that come from eating the wrong foods. It is much healthier for you and your baby to eat right to begin with.

You can learn more about a gestational diabetes diet from our meal planning solution that is a kit put together to guide you through your gestational diabetes and help you improve your health.  Click here to find out more.

A Step Forward For Women’s Health – Affordable Care Act Changes Coming Today

I am excited today about the changes that the affordable care act (also known as “Obamacare”) brought into light today. Women everywhere should be happy about the positive things that this means, regardless of how you feel about the law overall.  I am glad to see that gestational diabetes screening and supplies will be included.

Think about it for a minute, and get past the idea about the birth control issue if you oppose contraception, and realize that many women who have gestational diabetes do not have the funds to cover the necessary items needed to manage their blood sugars.  We are talking about the care and treatment of an unborn child.  We are talking about the future of both that mom and child.  This is part of the reason why I provide the meal plans that I do at such a wonderful price – I feel people need the information and if I can provide it using my expertise, I am making the world a better place.

Why not give it away?  I give away a lot of information and I put a lot of work into it, so it’s a reasonable cost of $19.99.

But that is not what we are here to talk about.  I want to shout it to the roof tops that women will get much better care for gestational diabetes and hopefully have healthier pregnancies and babies.  They will get tested and have the ability to get the tools they need to manage their blood sugars!  Yeah!  Best part is no co-pay, and I know that $20 savings makes a difference.  You can buy healthier foods and eat more fresh fruits and vegetables!

Women get gestational diabetes screening at 24 to 28 weeks pregnant, and those at high risk of developing gestational diabetes. Women who have gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future and the children of women with gestational diabetes are at increased risk of being overweight and insulin-resistant during childhood.  So just knowing that you have it will help you have a healthier pregnancy.

And after the birth of your child, you can get free breastfeeding resources and education.  I breastfed my children, and it was the best thing for them – as they were both preemies related to my gestational diabetes turning into pre-eclampsia.  But it was hard, and no women in my family ever breastfed before so I didn’t have a lot of help.  I am glad the resources will be more easily accessible.

Now, while it is required to go into effect today, August 1st, you should realize that it only takes effect when your policy renews.  So, if you are like me, these will go into effect in January.  But it’s not too much longer.

So, hurray for women today!  Now, whether you agree or not, it is an important step to allow women to have access to the services they need to have a healthy baby – it’s not just the mom’s life we are talking about.

 

Gestational Diabetes Treatment: What Are The Guidelines? Part 1

Now that you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes based on the glucose tolerance test, what should you do?

Your gestational diabetes treatment is based on clinical guidelines that tell your obstetrician how to manage your blood sugars and keep you as healthy as possible!

The treatment uses 3 different types of controls to get your blood sugars where they need to be for your health and the safety of your baby.

When managing your treatment of gestational diabetes, some interventions are more complicated than others.  Most doctors typically start with trying to control your blood sugars using a diet and exercise plan that can keep your blood sugars under control most of the time.  Never forget, your pregnant body is full of hormones, and sometimes it does not react the way that would be expected.  During the management of gestational diabetes, what is of the utmost importance is the health of the baby and mom, not necessarily if you have to take medication or not.  It’s a short time that you will need to tightly manage your eating and blood sugars, so grin and bear it!

Most gestational diabetes treatment starts with dietary control.  It’s important that a mom be provided with some nutritional guidelines that are individualized based on what she needs.  If she is a vegetarian, the meal plan that is provided by the professional should reflect ways to get the needed protein, carbohydrate and fat without the animal proteins that mom has chosen to avoid.  Most moms see either a certified diabetes educator (nurse or dietitian) or a registered dietitian who can provide them with calorie levels and guidance about what foods to eat and how much.  Many women may find this to be enough information and be able to successfully navigate the foods that they need to eat and grow a healthy baby.  Sometimes, more information is needed, and some women may choose to purchase a gestational diabetes meal plan that can help them understand all of their options.  Either way, mom will start with eating the right amounts of carbohydrate at meals.

Often, pregnant women with diabetes find that their blood sugar is affected by foods in different ways.  Sometimes, a fruit can cause a spike in blood sugars, while other foods such as ice cream seem to allow for a smooth transition without a blood sugar spike.  It is important to track what you eat, how much and when as well as you check your blood sugars.  This will help you and your doctor understand what parts of the day and what foods are most affecting you.  It’s going to be different for every woman, as our bodies have different responses to hormones that are peaking during pregnancy.

How many calories should you eat for your gestational diabetes treatment plan?

For women who are not over weight before pregnancy, it is recommended to eat 30 calories/kg/day.  1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds, so divide your weight in pounds by 2.2, then take that number and multiply by 30.  For example, if you weighed 150 pounds that is 68.18 kilograms.  So you would estimate your calorie needs at about 2045 per day.  Women who are over weight should multiply by 25 calories/kg/day.  As long as your baby is growing and your blood sugars are under control, you should be okay with the amount of food you are eating during your gestational diabetes treatment.

The next step that many doctors also recommend in combination with diet control is exercise.  While you probably were exercising during your pregnancy, exercise in small bursts throughout the day can help a mom control her blood sugars well.  After every meal, it will be important to take a 15 minute walk at a quick pace to lower your blood sugar. Exercise causes your body to use the sugar in your blood more effectively, and you can decrease your spike by adding in a burst of exercise a few times a day.  This also gives you health benefits by controlling the weight gain and improving your aerobic capacity.  That will come in handy during labor.  Check with your doctor if you are concerned about exercise, but it’s one of the best ways to lower blood sugar without using insulin.

In our next post we will talk about the medications that are used to manage gestational diabetes treatment and how they work.

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Gestational Diabetes Complications – Learn about the 5 Most Common Complications During Pregnancy [Are You at Risk?]

During your pregnancy, with every visit to your doctor you grow more excited about having a new baby.  You may have a few worries, but with gestational diabetes, you can have more complications than normal.  Being aware of what the complications are can help you recognize when they may be occurring and call your doctor if necessary.

One of the most common of the gestational diabetes complications is having a larger than normal baby.  This puts you as the mom more likely to gain too much weight.  When your blood sugar is continually high as is the case with uncontrolled gestational diabetes, your baby’s blood sugar is also high.  The baby grows larger than normal because it is getting excess calories and its body puts those extra calories into fat storage.

Another of the most common gestational diabetes complications is having to have a C-section.  At delivery, if the baby is too large, you may be unable to have a regular birth.  C-sections can cost more money because they are an actual operation.  They also increase the recovery time for mom to an average of 6 weeks.  With the new baby, recovering from a C-section can be difficult.

Thirdly, more important gestational diabetes complications can arise related to high blood pressure, which can also lead to preeclampsia.  Preeclampsia is usually shown by swelling in your hands and feet it will go away and excess protein in your urine tests which indicates kidney damage.  High blood pressure could eventually lead to seizures.  Women with gestational diabetes or diabetes during pregnancy tend to have high blood pressure more often.

Hypoglycemia is part of multifaceted group of gestational diabetes complications and can lead to a great number of problems.  Your obstetrician may place you on insulin or another medication to help you control your blood sugars to help reduce further complications.  If you happen to forget to eat but have taken your insulin for the day or the meal, your blood sugar might get dangerously low.  It’s important to check your blood sugar throughout the day as recommended by your doctor.

Finally, developing diabetes later in life is one of the most common gestational diabetes complications.  Women who have gestational diabetes during their pregnancy are at twice the risk of developing type 2 diabetes within 10 years.  A great way to reduce your risk is through controlling your gestational diabetes and periodically having checkups where your doctor monitors your blood sugar levels about every 3 years.

If you follow a healthy meal plan and eat on a regular basis throughout the day, you can avoid, or at least reduce the risk of many of the complications associated with gestational diabetes.  Learning more about the disease can help you control these gestational diabetes complications, read more in our email series.  Go there now and sign up for more information.