Pregnancy Complications: Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes can seem scary, and it will require more work to avoid pregnancy complications than an average pregnancy would. But with good obstetrical care and attention to your blood sugar, diet and exercise, you can have a normal pregnancy and a healthy baby.
As you probably know, diabetes is a condition in which the person doesn't have enough insulin to handle the sugars in the diet, so glucose, a type of sugar, builds up in the blood. When you're pregnant, your body needs more insulin than it does when not pregnant, so women who had enough insulin to meet their needs beforehand can become temporarily diabetic, causing unique pregnancy complications.
Although diabetes can be dangerous to a growing fetus, if you manage to keep your blood sugars in the normal range, the risks of pregnancy complications dont increase. Some women with gestational diabetes can do this just by avoiding sugars and simple carbohydrates in their diet, but others will need medicines, like insulin, in order to keep their blood sugars under control. Exercise also helps control blood glucose levels to avoid pregnancy complications.
If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you will need to test your blood sugar to be sure it remains normal—typical goals would be under 100 before eating, and under 120 after meals, but your doctor will give you guidelines to follow. A consultation with a dietitian is helpful, so you can learn how to eat the right amounts of the right foods. And if your sugars run high, taking medication may become necessary to avoid pregnancy complications, for your health and the health of your baby-to-be.
One pregnancy complication associated with elevated blood sugar is that it can make your baby grow extra-large, leading to difficult deliveries. These bigger babies can have trouble with their blood sugars after birth, and may remain overweight later in life. Also, stillbirth is more common with uncontrolled diabetes.