Gestational diabetes is diabetes first diagnosed in a mother during pregnancy. Just like other types of diabetes, it affects how your body’s cells use sugar (glucose), which leads to high blood sugar that can affect your health.
One of the main issues with gestational diabetes is that it can also affect your baby’s health. In fact, if you don’t take action, it can even lead to the death of the baby.
If you take the appropriate steps both you and your baby will be fine. Here’s more information about how gestational diabetes can harm your baby and what you can do to prevent problems from occurring courtesy of the expert team at Physician’s Medical Primary Care.
If you’re pregnant, your placenta produces hormones to protect your baby, but these hormones make your cells resistant to insulin. Your pancreas typically produces more insulin to counteract this, but if your pancreas can’t keep up, glucose can’t leave your bloodstream, and your blood sugar levels become too high, which is when diabetes develops.
This extra glucose can pass through the placenta to the baby, giving the baby high glucose levels as well.
Several complications can then develop in the baby. Because gestational diabetes typically develops later in pregnancy, the baby’s body is formed, so many birth defects are already off the table. There are several other problems that can occur, though.
The extra sugar in the baby’s bloodstream can cause it to gain too much weight leading to birth injuries if it becomes stuck in the birth canal. The extra sugar can also increase the risk of early labor and delivery, which can cause respiratory distress because the baby’s lungs are not yet fully developed.
Sometimes, babies of mothers with gestational diabetes have hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, after birth. This can lead to seizures, but regular feedings can return their blood sugar levels to normal. Gestational diabetes babies also have a higher risk of obesity as kids and a higher chance of developing diabetes themselves as adults.
If left completely untreated, gestational diabetes can sometimes result in a stillbirth.
While there are no guarantees with diabetes, you can lower your risk of developing gestational diabetes and reduce the chance of harm to your baby by following a few simple guidelines.
Eat healthy foods high in fiber and low in fat and calories. Focus on foods such as proteins, fruit, and vegetables and watch portion sizes. Try to start pregnancy at a healthy weight and keep your weight gain during pregnancy to what your provider considers healthy. Stay active before and during your pregnancy — aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day.
If you’re pregnant and concerned about gestational diabetes, Physician’s Medical Primary Care is here to help. Just call one of our three locations or book an appointment online, and we’ll take care of you right away!