Almost from the minute you find out you’re pregnant, changes begin. They expand your body, absorb your mind, and challenge your normal way of living. When your normal way of eating and exercise leads to gestational diabetes (GD), it’s time to make changes during pregnancy that can benefit both you and your child for the rest of your lives.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
There are three kinds of diabetes:
- Type 1 develops in childhood (also called ‘juvenile diabetes)
- Type 2 develops in adulthood
- Gestational develops around the 24th week of pregnancy
Having diabetes means your body cannot process sugar from foods and turn it into energy. Instead, that sugar stays in your blood and can cause problems in everyday activities or with baby’s development.
Blood sugar levels derive from both sugary foods or from foods full of carbohydrates that convert to sugar during digestion.
Pregnancy creates an awesome amount of hormonal changes that raise the overall sugar level in your body, challenging your liver to produce enough insulin to process it. When your liver cannot cope, gestational diabetes (GD) develops.
No one knows what causes gestational diabetes—any woman can develop it—but some common risk factors are
- Age – being over 25 (some say 35) years old
- Weight – being overweight before pregnancy
- Heredity – a close family member who has Type 2 diabetes
- Personal history – having prediabetes or having had diabetes with a previous pregnancy
- Prior pregnancy – having given birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds (4.1 kilograms)
- An unexplained stillbirth
- Race – women of African-American, Hispanic, American Indian, Pacific Islander or Asian descent have a higher risk
GD can be managed with a little planning, in the same way you’re planning your birth.
If you are not yet pregnant but are planning to be, a pre-pregnancy wellness test can evaluate your risk for developing GD. If you are pregnant, you will get a gestational diabetes test as part of your prenatal care.
What to do
You can make positive changes even before you’re pregnant to avoid developing GD by
- Eating healthy foods – raw, unprocessed, organic, or sugar-free
- Exercising regularly – 30 minutes a day
- Controlling your weight
If you’ve already been diagnosed with GD, add taking medication and monitoring your blood sugar to that list, if your care provider says it’s necessary. Your baby will also be closely monitored for growth and development.
Many women with GD find their high blood sugar returns to its pre-pregnancy levels shortly after baby is born.
You’ve Got This!
You’re at the perfect time to change!
Making positive life changes that prevent or cope with GD means you are creating a healthier you—the Mom who can live longer, be active, and enjoy all that having children encompasses.
Eating a diet free of refined sugar or empty carbohydrates and exercising everyday grows a good body, for you and your baby.
To learn more about 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 30, 2017 | By SP Turgon, Certified Labor Doula | Reviewed by: The Best Ever Baby Expert Team | Last reviewed: July, 2017