It’s no secret that pregnancy is a transformative, life-changing journey. But along with picking out names, buying baby clothes, and decorating the nursery, it can come with some new and challenging health issues.
One such concern is gestational diabetes. Up to 10% of women develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy, and receiving a diagnosis can be scary. Here to help is our team at OB-GYN Associates of Marietta.
We offer comprehensive pregnancy and prenatal care for women in Marietta and Woodstock, Georgia. November is National Diabetes Month, a fine time to focus on gestational diabetes, its warning signs, and what you can do to keep yourself and your baby as healthy as possible.
Understanding gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that only occurs during pregnancy. It develops when your body can’t produce enough insulin to meet the increased needs brought on by pregnancy.
Lack of insulin elevates your blood sugar levels, which can harm both you and your baby. Every pregnancy is different, but gestational diabetes generally develops sometime between weeks 24-28 of pregnancy.
Recognizing the warning signs of gestational diabetes
Like other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes doesn’t always have obvious warning signs or symptoms. That’s why the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends all pregnant women undergo gestational diabetes screening at or after week 24.
However, some women do experience noticeable signs of gestational diabetes. These symptoms can include:
- Excessive thirst
- Blurred vision
- Increased hunger
- Frequent infections, like urinary tract infections or yeast infections
Remember that these signs don’t guarantee you have gestational diabetes. Routine prenatal screening is the only way to get a diagnosis and the treatment you need to keep yourself and your baby healthy.
Navigating gestational diabetes diagnosis and treatment
We diagnose gestational diabetes with a glucose screening test, sometimes called a glucose challenge test or glucose tolerance test. You drink a special beverage at one of your prenatal appointments during your second trimester, and we measure your blood sugar to diagnose or rule out the condition.
If you have gestational diabetes, managing it is crucial for both the well-being of you and your baby. The primary goals of treatment are to control blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of complications. Some key components of managing gestational diabetes are:
The food you eat directly affects your blood sugar levels, so dietary changes are important in managing gestational diabetes. We work with you to develop a meal plan that helps control blood sugar levels, which typically involves monitoring carbohydrate intake and choosing nutrient-rich foods.
Regular physical activity can improve your insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control. Talk to our team about pregnancy-safe exercises, and make sure you don’t push yourself too hard during workouts.
You need to monitor your blood sugar levels frequently when you have gestational diabetes. Typically, we recommend daily fingerstick tests, although there are other options. Along with blood sugar monitoring, you have regular prenatal check-ups, where we check your baby's growth and development.
Sometimes, we prescribe insulin or other medications to help manage your blood sugar levels, particularly when diet and exercise alone aren’t sufficient.
Can gestational diabetes be prevented?
Experts aren’t sure exactly why some women get gestational diabetes and others don’t. Some risk factors, like your age and family history, can’t be controlled, of course.
Other factors like your weight and lifestyle habits can be changed — but it’s still possible to get gestational diabetes even if you do everything right.
You may be able to lower your risk of gestational diabetes by:
- Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight before pregnancy
- Eating a balanced diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats
- Engaging in regular physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle
- Managing stress
Whether you have gestational diabetes or not, regular prenatal care is the best way to promote a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Learn more about gestational diabetes with an appointment at OB-GYN Associates of Marietta. Contact us to get started today.