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Gestational Diabetes

Diabetes affects the way your body turns food into energy. When you eat, your body changes food into a sugar called glucose. Sugar is the "fuel" your body needs for al] your activities-whether it's breathing, reading, walking or running. Diabetes makes it difficult for your body to use sugar for fuel. All people with diabetes have the same problem: too much sugar in their blood..

To carry sugar from your bloodstream to your cells, your body uses insulin. Insulin is a hormone made by a gland near your stomach called the pancreas. With diabetes, your body doesn't make enough insulin or doesn't use insulin properly. Sugar isn't carried properly to your cells, so too much stays in your bloodstream. This is called hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar. Left untreated, high blood sugar can cause a lot of damage to your body.

What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar that occurs ONLY in pregnant women who do not already have diabetes. It usually goes away once the baby is born Only a small number of women are affected. It occur at about the 24th week of pregnancy, when your body makes large amounts of hormones to help you baby grow. These hormones keep your insulin from working the way it should. When this happens, your blood sugar rises.

High blood sugar will cause your baby to grow large and make insulin. Don't worry-most women with gestational diabetes have healthy babies. Still, the gestational diabetes has to be treated until your baby is born. Keeping your blood sugar as near normal as possible will prevent problems for you an your baby.

Am I at risk for gestational diabetes?

You could be at risk if:

• You are overweight
• You have a family history of diabetes
• You have had a baby weighing over 9 pounds

How is gestational diabetes treated?

Meet with a dietician.
For anyone with diabetes, meal planning is important to help control blood sugar. All foods turn into sugar. Carbohydrates like bread, rice and fruit affect your blood sugar the most. Protein and fat can also raise the blood sugar. Eating too many carbohydrates can cause you to have high blood sugar. A dietician can help you learn how to control your blood sugar and provide good nutrition for you and your baby.

Get enough exercise.
Exercise is important when you have gestational diabetes. Talk to your healthcare team about the best kind of exercise to do while pregnant.

Test your blood sugar yourself with a meter.
This helps you and your healthcare team to know how your gestational diabetes plan is working. Your healthcare team will te¡¡ you how often to test and what your blood sugar goals are. Sometimes changes in your diet or exercise are needed.

Test your urine for Ketones.
Ketones are left over when you have to use body fat for energy. They can be a sign that your body is not getting enough sugar for fuel. Remember, when you are pregnant, you need energy for two. Ask your healthcare team about ketone testing.

Take insulin if directed by your doctor.
When you have gestational diabetes, the insulin your body makes may not be working well. Some women need to take insulin to control blood sugar. Pills for diabetes cannot be used during pregnancy.

How can gestational diabetes affect me?

When you get gestational diabetes, some problems can occur. Fortunately, in most cases, good control of blood sugar may prevent having these problems.

Urinary tract infections are more common in women with gestational diabetes. These infections are caused by bacteria, which grow better when your blood sugar is high.

Cesarean section (also known as a C-section) is more common for women with gestational diabetes.

Preeclampsia (you may have heard this called toxemia) is possible with gestational diabetes. If you get this condition, you will have high blood pressure protein in your urine, swelling in your face, hands and feet, and greater weight gain.

Polyhydramnios can also occur, meaning you have too much amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid is the liquid inside the uterus. The uterus is the part c the body that holds the baby during pregnancy. Polyhydramnios can cause the baby to be born too soon.

Can gestational diabetes affect my baby?

Yes, high blood sugar can affect your baby, but good control can lower the risk of your baby having problems.

Macrosomia means large baby. When your blood sugar is too high, the extra sugar gets to your baby. Your baby makes more insulin. The extra insulin and sugar make your child grow bigger and fatter than normal. Macrosomia can make it difficult for you to deliver your baby.

Hypoglycemia means low blood sugar. If you have high blood sugar while you are in labour, your baby will make extra insulin. After delivery, the extra insulin causes your baby's blood sugar to get too low. Your baby's blood sugar will be checked and treated, if necessary.

Jaundice of the newborn is a condition that makes your baby's skin look yellow. It is not serious, and can happen when you have gestational diabetes. Before delivery, your baby makes extra red blood cells. After delivery, your baby's ever breaks down the extra red blood cells and gets rid of them. The waste product from this process is called bilirubin. If your baby's liver is not mature enough at birth, the extra red blood cells and bilirubin stay in your baby's body. Bilirubin makes your baby's skin look yellow. It is simple to treat in the hospital using special lights.

Can l have a healthy baby?

Of course you can have a healthy baby when you have gestational diabetes. Here are some tips:

1. Follow the instructions of your healthcare team.
2. Check your blood sugar yourself with a meter.
3. Test your urine for ketones.
4. Follow your meal plan.
5. Exercise regularly.

Will my baby be born with diabetes?

No, having gestational diabetes does not cause your baby to be born with diabetes.

Will diabetes go away after my pregnancy?

Usually, your blood sugar will go back to normal as soon as your baby is born. However, your risk of getting diabetes later it life is high when you have had gestational diabetes. It is important to stay on a healthy meal plan, maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly. You should have your blood sugar checked again at your 6-week check up and regularly (yearly) thereafter. Taking better care of yourself now will mean less chance of developing diabetes later.
Ramiro Antuña de Alaiz
Clínica Diabetológica
education > taking control over your diabetes > pregnancy & diabetes