What does your risk level during pregnancy mean to you and your baby? If you’re low risk, it means the chance of complications is small. If you’re high risk, it means your health—or your baby’s—could be threatened during pregnancy or birth. Gestational diabetes (GD) puts you smack dab in the high-risk category, which could affect the birthing choices available to you.
What to do when GD makes your pregnancy risk level goes up
All women receiving prenatal care will be tested for GD, and any woman could suddenly find she has it. Even with a healthy diet and lifestyle, the riot of pregnancy hormones can inhibit or prevent insulin production or function, leading to GD.
Talking with your care provider and making the changes they recommend are always your best bet. It probably means eating and exercising differently, taking medication, and possibly rethinking your birth plan.
Many women find GD disappears a short time after birth, when hormones diminish and stabilize to normal levels. And even with GD, many women give birth to healthy babies.
Do you need to re-think your birth plan?
One of the biggest concerns when mom has GD is that her baby will grow too large (macrosomia) to pass easily through the birth canal, causing birth injuries to baby, extreme tearing for mom, and post-birth problems.
So even if your blood pressure stays in the healthy range and baby’s heartbeat is strong and steady during labor, you may receive medications, have fetal monitoring, or require C-sections. All of these interventions keep you in bed and restrict your ability to move with your contractions.
If your birth preferences center on things like giving birth vaginally or being at home or using movement during labor, you’ll probably need to adjust your birth plan. Remember to put the revised version of your birth plan on your hospital bag checklist!
Working with your care provider
Finding out early that you have GD gives you a lot of time to manage it and discuss options with your care provider. If GD develops late in pregnancy, you’ve probably already made most of your birth preferences and can adjust your birth plan.
If your perfect birth is the one you have in the birthing tub in your living room, now is the time to see if birth professionals in your area will do a home birth when you have GD. Some midwives will do it, as long as their safety criteria are met.
What about a birthing center near you?
Sometimes birthing centers attached to hospitals allow women with GD to give birth there. A birthing center offers a home-like environment with medical technology right outside the door, and could be the best substitute for your home birth plan.
Your local hospital may work with you
Most hospitals try to work with you to give you as many of your birth choices as are safe.
They may, for instance, hold off on medication or episiotomy if you and baby are OK. They may let you have intermittent fetal monitoring instead of continuous. They may allow you to give birth vaginally if baby is not in distress. They may allow your partner in surgery with you if you have a C-section.
Beyond where and how you give birth lies a world of personal choice. You can still put up pictures, have a midwife or doula, listen to music, have your partner with you, eat or drink according to hospital rules, may wear your own clothing, get massages, use your favorite scent, possibly walk around or use the shower, or watch movies.
After the birth—as long as baby is doing well—you might still get immediate skin-to-skin contact and nursing. Your partner or family may still get to hold baby. And you’re all still a brand new, shiny family.
Gestational diabetes gives you the opportunity to look at yourself, your baby, and your birth with fresh eyes.
Good food and regular, appropriate exercise during pregnancy can make a huge difference during labor and postpartum. Getting enough rest helps keeps stress levels (and stress eating) down. Creating an alternative birth plan in case of emergencies helps you feel in control.
To learn more about pre-pregnancy and pregnancy health, download our free Birth Plan eBook now. After three years of research, collaboration with more than 100 childbirth experts and resource centers from Healthy Child Healthy World to the American Association of Neonatal Nurses, the Best Ever Baby Birth Plan Guide is available for a free download.
This new resource for pregnant families is a compilation of top tips and advice from more than 20 nationally-recognized experts in the field including renowned pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene and GraceFull Birthing founder, midwife Elizabeth Bachner. These trusted experts offer thoughtful guidance for whatever type of birthing experience parents want, in whichever setting they choose.
Published: July 3, 2017 | By SP Turgon, Certified Labor Doula | Reviewed by: The Best Ever Baby Expert Team | Last reviewed: July, 2017