Some women develop diabetes only during pregnancy; it is called gestational diabetes.
It occurs when pregnancy hormones affect the way your body makes or
uses insulin, a hormone that converts sugar in food into energy the
If your body doesn’t make enough insulin
or if it doesn’t use the insulin appropriately, sugar in the blood
rises to an unacceptable level. This is called hyperglycemia
and means you have too much sugar in your blood. Occasionally, hormones
made by the placenta can alter the actions of insulin, and gestational
diabetes occurs. Several other factors can affect your blood-sugar
levels, including stress, the time of day (glucose values are often
higher in the morning), the amount of exercise you do and the amount of
carbohydrates in your diet.
Gestational diabetes affects about 10% of
all pregnancies. After birth, nearly all women who experience the
problem return to normal, and it disappears. However, if gestational
diabetes occurs with one pregnancy, there’s almost a 90% chance it will
happen in future pregnancies. In addition, some women who develop
gestational diabetes may develop type-2 diabetes within 10 years. Your
best protection is to stay within the recommended weight-gain limits
your healthcare provider gives you.
We believe gestational diabetes occurs
for two reasons. One is the mother’s body produces less insulin during
pregnancy. The second is the mother’s body can’t use insulin
effectively. Both situations result in high blood-sugar levels. Risk
factors for developing gestational diabetes include:
• over 30 years old
• family history of diabetes
• gestational diabetes in previous pregnancy
• previously gave birth to baby who weighed over 9½ pounds
• previously had a stillborn baby
• being Black/African American, Latina/Hispanic, Asian, Native American or Pacific Islander
A woman’s weight when she was born may
also be an indicator of her chances of developing gestational diabetes.
One study showed women who were in the bottom 10th percentile of weight when they were born were 3 to 4 times more likely to develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
Symptoms and Treatment for Gestational Diabetes.
Good control of gestational diabetes is important. If left untreated,
it can be serious for you and your baby. You will both be exposed to a
high concentration of sugar, which is not healthy for either of you.
You might experience polyhydramnios (excessive amounts of
amniotic fluid). This may cause premature labor because the uterus
becomes overdistended. Symptoms of gestational diabetes include:
• blurred vision
• tingling or numbness in hands and/or feet
• excessive thirst
• frequent urination
• sores that heal slowly
• excess fatigue
If you have gestational diabetes, you’re
at higher risk of problems. If your blood-sugar level is high, you may
get more infections during pregnancy. You are also more likely to
develop gum disease, which may raise your resistance to insulin.
Treating it may help lower your risk of developing pregnancy
Experts believe a woman with gestational
diabetes may overfeed her fetus and cause baby to store more fat after
birth. Treating the problem may help reduce your baby’s risk of being
obese in later life. You may also have a long labor because baby is
big. Sometimes a baby can’t fit through the birth canal, and a Cesarean
delivery is required.
Treatment of gestational diabetes
includes regular exercise and increased fluid intake. Diet is essential
in handling the problem. If your gestational
diabetes is controlled by diet alone, monitor yourself very closely.
Controlling your gestational diabetes can lower the risk of delivering
an oversize infant.
Your healthcare provider will probably
recommend a six-meal, 2000-to 2500-calorie-per-day eating plan. You may
also be referred to a dietitian. Research shows women who receive
dietary counseling, blood-sugar monitoring and insulin therapy (when
needed) do better during pregnancy than women who receive routine care.
Eating a diet low in fat and high in
fiber may help reduce your risk of getting gestational diabetes. If
your intake of vitamin C is low, it may increase your risk.
Insulin therapy is the first
choice when medicine is necessary to treat the problem. In some cases,
oral medications, such as glyburide or Metformin, are used.
6. Your Nutrition
You may need to be careful with your
sodium intake during pregnancy. Taking in too much sodium may cause you
to retain water, which can contribute to swelling and bloating.
However, you do need some every day to help deal with your increased blood volume. Aim for between 1500 and 2300mg of sodium a day.
Eat potassium-rich foods, such as raisins
and bananas; potassium helps the body get rid of sodium faster. Avoid
foods that contain lots of sodium or salt, such as salted nuts, potato
chips, pickles, canned foods and processed foods.
Read food labels. They list the amount of
sodium in a serving. Some books list the sodium content of foods
without labels, such as fast foods. Check them out. You’ll be surprised
how many milligrams of sodium a fast-food hamburger contains!
Tip for Week 23
Keeping your consumption of sodium to 2 grams (2000mg) or less a day may help you reduce fluid retention.
Sodium Content of Various Foods
||Sodium Content (mg)
|Big Mac hamburger
|Chicken â la king
Look at the chart above; it
lists some common foods and their sodium content. You can see foods
that contain sodium don’t always taste salty. Check available
information before you eat!