November is American Diabetes Month. According to the CDC, roughly 2-10% of pregnancies in the United States are affected by gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is when a woman develops diabetes during pregnancy. The hormones released by the placenta can interfere with another hormone called insulin. Insulin helps to keep blood sugar levels within normal range. If your body is not responding correctly to or making enough insulin, then you can have elevated blood sugar levels. Because of this hormone interference, pregnant women are routinely screened for gestational diabetes at 28 weeks of pregnancy. Women with risk factors or a history of gestational diabetes in a prior pregnancy are typically screened earlier.
A 1-hour glucose test will be performed to screen for gestational diabetes. This test involves drinking a sweet liquid that contains 50g of glucose (sugar) and having your blood drawn 1 hour later. If your blood sugar level is elevated after 1 hour, it is recommended to complete a diagnostic 3-hour glucose tolerance test. If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes you will be asked to check your blood sugar daily, follow a special diet to try to control your blood sugar levels and exercise regularly. Many women can control their blood sugar levels with diet and exercise. Some women do need medication to help to control their sugar levels, as well.
Gestational diabetes can have impacts during and after your pregnancy. In pregnancy, one of the risks is having a larger baby which can make delivery more difficult. The baby can also have low blood sugar after birth and may need additional monitoring in the first day of life. After pregnancy, your risk of developing type 2 diabetes is increased and roughly 50% of women with gestational diabetes will go on to develop type 2 diabetes. Because of this increased risk, it is important to be screened for diabetes in the postpartum period. Focusing on healthy eating habits and regular exercise helps to control blood sugar levels in pregnancy and will help to decrease you risk of diabetes after delivery.
Here at Capital Women’s Care, we want you to have a happy, healthy pregnancy and strive to provide you with the best pregnancy care!