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How to Have a Healthy Baby While Managing Gestational Diabetes

Photo: Courtesy of Alex Pasarelu

You are not alone — nearly 10 percent of pregnancies in the United States are affected by gestational diabetes.

If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes while you are pregnant, one important thing to remember is that, by working with your doctor, you can still have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. 

Most pregnant women have a glucose screening test between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. The test may be done earlier if you have a high glucose level in your urine during your routine prenatal visits or if you have a high risk for diabetes. No matter what, know that you have all the support you need for both you and your baby.

We don’t know what causes gestational diabetes, but we know that it affects millions of women. We know the placenta supports the baby as it grows. 

Sometimes, these hormones from the placenta also block the effects of the mother’s insulin — a hormone produced in the pancreas that regulates the amount of glucose in the blood — and it causes a problem called insulin resistance. This insulin resistance makes it hard for the mother’s body to use insulin, and she may require up to three times as much insulin to compensate.

Under control

While any pregnancy complication is concerning, there’s good news. Expectant mothers can help control gestational diabetes by eating healthy foods, exercising, and, if necessary, taking medication. Controlling blood sugar can keep you and your baby healthy and prevent a difficult delivery.

In women with gestational diabetes, blood sugar usually returns to normal soon after delivery. But if you’ve had gestational diabetes, you have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and you will need to be tested for changes in blood sugar more often.

Whatever the cause, work with your doctor to come up with a plan and maintain a healthy pregnancy through birth. Ask questions. Ask for help. There are many ways to combat gestational diabetes.

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