Are You at Risk for Gestational Diabetes?

The goal for every expectant mother is to have a healthy pregnancy. Some women experience health problems like gestational diabetes during pregnancy. This can even happen in women who are in good health before pregnancy. Prenatal care plays a key role in reducing the risk for health complications during pregnancy and managing conditions appropriately to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible.

Importance of prenatal care

Here at Capital Women’s Care we encourage patients to make an appointment for prenatal care as soon as pregnancy is suspected. Early and regular visits with your OB/GYN helps ensure a healthy pregnancy. Prenatal care includes physical exams, weight checks, imaging tests, and relevant blood and urine tests.  

Your Capital Women’s Care provider monitors you and the baby throughout your pregnancy, manages preexisting conditions, and takes extra steps should a health condition such as gestational diabetes arise during pregnancy.

What is gestational diabetes?

When you develop diabetes during pregnancy without a history of the condition, it’s called gestational diabetes. While the exact cause is unknown, data suggests that in some women, hormones produced during pregnancy interfere with the way the body regulates blood glucose, leading to high blood sugar levels.  

How does gestational diabetes affect me and my baby?

Your growing baby receives its nourishment from you. When your blood sugar is high, your baby receives more glucose than it needs for growth and development. This can cause the baby to gain too much weight. In turn, large babies can lead to delivery difficulties.

Women with gestational diabetes are also at a higher risk for developing a form of high blood pressure called preeclampsia that only develops during pregnancy.

Risk factors for gestational diabetes

Some women are more at risk for developing gestational diabetes than others. You’re at risk for gestational diabetes if you:

The more risk factors you have, the higher your risk for developing gestational diabetes during your pregnancy.

Should I get tested for gestational diabetes?

Your Capital Women’s Care provider assesses your risks along with other factors when counseling you on gestational diabetes screening. The screening test requires you to drink a sugary liquid and have your blood glucose measured an hour later. 

If your blood sugar is high, your provider may order an oral glucose tolerance test. This test requires you to avoid eating for at least eight hours before measuring your blood glucose. You’re then administered an oral dose of glucose and blood samples are taken at four different intervals to evaluate how your body handles glucose.

What should I know about gestational diabetes?

Most women with gestational diabetes have healthy pregnancies and deliveries. Patients often find it reassuring to know that gestational diabetes is treatable and that blood sugar levels usually return to normal after pregnancy. Careful management and blood sugar control reduces health problems for mother and baby.

Can I prevent gestational diabetes?

Patients often ask how they can lower their risk for health conditions like gestational diabetes, and the good news is that there are steps you can take. Adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle before and during pregnancy is the best natural weapon against gestational diabetes. 

Here are three ways to lower your risk:

1. Give your diet a makeover

Making health-conscious food choices will provide a good nutritional base to support you and the baby during pregnancy. Nutrient-dense foods help keep your body in balance to reduce the risks of health complications like gestational diabetes. Eating healthy portions of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, legumes, lean proteins, and healthy fats is a good place to start.

2. Engage in exercise

Whether you’re trying to become pregnant or are currently pregnant, exercise is beneficial. Getting enough physical activity helps promote sensitivity to the blood sugar-regulating hormone insulin. Aim for 30 minutes of low-impact exercise, such as swimming, walking, and other activities that are safe during pregnancy.

3. Lose weight

If you’re overweight, losing weight before conception and maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy can help keep you and your baby healthy. Typical healthy lifestyle habits like getting enough exercise and choosing a balance of nutritious foods helps with weight maintenance.

Pregnancy is an exciting time that can also feel stressful. You have a lot to think about and many decisions to make when it comes to taking care of yourself during pregnancy. We’re here at Capital Women’s Care to help you every step of the way. 

For all of your prenatal needs, visit one of our exceptional OB/GYNs. Call 571-206-8830 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrea Williams, Dr. Sandra Caskie, Dr. Michele Berkeley or Dr. Alexis Light at one of our clinics.

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