Will I Deliver My Baby Early With Gestational Diabetes?

Will you deliver your baby early if you have gestational diabetes?


Childbirth (Photo credit: popularpatty)

Just like what its name suggests, gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a type of diabetes that only happens during pregnancy. The high levels of various hormones during pregnancy can impair the function of insulin in your body. Since insulin is the hormone that regulates glucose, its inhibition can result to high sugar levels in the body.

There’s a good side and bad side to this condition. The good news is that blood sugar levels usually return to normal after delivery, although the mother becomes at risk for developing Type II diabetes later on. As for the bad news, gestational diabetes can have certain adverse effects on delivery, and that includes premature delivery.

What has GDM got to do with it?

For majority of the women suffering from controlled GDM, there are no problems concerning the health and delivery of the baby. However, if GDM is uncontrolled during pregnancy, this can result to problems for both the mother and the baby, including premature delivery of the latter. There are two common reasons why premature delivery happens for women with GDM, and they are as follows:

  • Macrosomia – Macrosomia is a condition in which the baby appears large for its gestational age. This excessive birth weight occurs because of the extra glucose that crosses the placenta from the bloodstream. In this case, the obstetrician might recommend giving birth to the baby through C-section to avoid birth injuries. If the baby continues to grow too large, the doctor might be forced to have the baby delivered prematurely.
  • Pre-eclampsia – High blood during pregnancy is known as pre-eclampsia, and it is a life-threatening condition not just for the mother but also for the baby. Because glucose makes the blood thicker, it can also pave the way for high blood pressure to develop. Continuous hypertension can result to seizures or even stroke, in which cases the baby needs to be born earlier than its term.

Does preterm delivery affect me and my baby?

Although preterm babies beyond seven months are not uncommon, they inarguably become at risk for several conditions, such as the following:

  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) – Since the baby’s lungs only reach maturity during term, they may find it difficult to breathe once they are born pre-term. A pre-term baby might need to be taken care of in the NICU and be hooked to a breathing machine.
  • Jaundice – The liver of the premature baby is also not yet mature enough to break down bilirubin, hence causing a yellowish discoloration of the skin and even the whites of the eyes. Usually, this is not very alarming or life-threatening, but it would still require careful monitoring.
  • Type 2 DM and hypoglycemia – In the womb of a mother with GDM, the baby’s pancreas get used to producing lots of insulin in response to the high level of glucose coming from the mother. When the baby is delivered, it is possible that it might initially suffer from hypoglycemia because of its pancreas’ continuous production of insulin. There is also a possibility that the baby might suffer from Type II diabetes mellitus later on in life.

The key to GDM is to monitor one’s blood sugar during pregnancy to avoid any complications to the mother and the baby. Consult one’s obstetrician so that blood sugar level is controlled. It is also important to watch one’s diet and engage in regular exercise.

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