According to the CDC, gestational diabetes is a problem for approximately 9% of pregnancies. This condition can have serious and lasting side effects for both mother and baby, but many women do not know what it is. A pregnant woman is said to have gestaitonal diabetes if she has high blood sugar levels during pregnancy, but did not have diabetes before. That means gestational diabetes is a problem for women who may never had to think about diabetes and blood sugar levels before! Unfortunately, hormones released during pregnancy can raise insulin resistance and cause temporary problems with blood sugar levels.
Gestational diabetes is the last thing you want to worry about when you’re pregnant. You’re struggling enough as it is to control your diet (whether your problem is nausea, cravings, or both). Maybe you had to cut back on the coffee, give up the glass of wine with dinner, or say goodbye to your favorite cheese from Whole Foods. You’re worrying about nutritional requirements that you never cared about that much before… and now you have to be extra-careful with the carbs, too?
Unfortunately, if you are at risk for gestational diabetes, you certainly want to do everything you can to prevent it. Gestational diabetes puts both you and your baby at risk for a lot of health problems, both now and later down the line. Though your diabetes is likely to go away once your hormones return to normal, the problems gestational diabetes can bring in labor alone should motivate you to avoid it all together. Typically, that means exercise and even more of that “eating well.”
Depending on your medical history, your doctor may have already suggested screening you for gestational diabetes. If not, you may want to consider the risk factors for gestational diabetes. You don’t have to have had diabetes before in order to get gestational diabetes. If any of these are true for you, you should have a conversation with your doctor about gestational diabetes screening and prevention.
You are considered to be at a higher risk of gestational diabetes if:
You have experienced gestational diabetes before,
You have previously had a macrosomic (9lbs +) baby,
You were/are overweight,
You have a family or personal history of type 2 diabetes,
You are over 25 years of age,
You are African American, Asian American, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, or Hispanic.
If none of these things are the case, it still can’t hurt to talk to your OBGYN about gestational diabetes. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when it’s your baby’s health at question. And if it turns out you’re in the clear for gestational diabetes, that’s one less thing you have to worry about!