Gestational Diabetes

Gestational Diabetes

If you have gestational diabetes during your pregnancy
the level of sugar in your bloodstream is higher than normal.
The sugar in your blood is called glucose.
A hormone in your body called insulin acts like a key in a lock
when it attaches to receptors on your cells.
The insulin opens your cells so glucose can enter them.
Now your cells can use the glucose
to produce the energy they need to function properly.
A gland called the pancreas makes all the insulin your cells need to use glucose.
The exact cause of gestational diabetes isn't known.
However, the organ that attaches your baby to your uterus, called the placenta,
makes hormones that may prevent insulin from letting glucose into your cells.
As a result the glucose in your blood rises above normal levels
in a condition called hyperglycemia.
Hyperglycemia is the hallmark of any type of diabetes.
If your blood glucose levels are not kept in the normal range
you may develop complications such as high blood pressure.
In addition you have an increased risk for premature birth.
and cesarean birth, in which your doctor delivers your baby
through an incision in your abdomen.
Your baby may also be at risk for complications shortly after birth including
excessive birth-weight, called macrosomia
low blood sugar, called hypoglycemia
a yellow color of your baby's skin, called jaundice
and difficulty breathing.
Gestational diabetes usually goes away after your baby is born
The goal of treating gestational diabetes is to keep your blood glucose
in your normal target range.
You can do this by creating a healthy eating plan with your health care provider
or a registered dietitian.
Physical activity and exercise can also help you keep your blood glucose level
within your normal target range.
Your doctor may ask you to regularly check your blood glucose level
with a glucose meter.
To check your blood glucose level you will insert a test strip
into your glucose meter.
Then you will stick your finger and place a drop of blood
onto the test strip.
The glucose meter will measure and display your blood glucose level.
If you have gestational diabetes the American Diabetes Association
recommends the following target ranges for blood glucose level:
95 or less before a meal
140 or less one hour after a meal
and 120 or less two hours after a meal
Check with your doctor for your specific target range.
If diet and exercise are not able to keep your blood glucose level within
your normal target range
your caregiver may prescribe insulin for you,
and show you how to give yourself insulin shots.
You can help prevent gestational diabetes by
getting preconceptual counseling in which you meet with your obstetrician
before you get pregnant to plan a healthy pregnancy,
losing excess pounds before you get pregnant,
getting regular exercise before and during your pregnancy,
and eating healthy foods.

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