Author: Abby Cate, Clinical Pharmacist
If you have high blood sugar levels during your pregnancy, your doctor may diagnose you with gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is diagnosed in women who did not have diabetes before getting pregnant but have high glucose levels during their pregnancy.
Why Some Women Get Gestational Diabetes
Throughout your pregnancy, you will experience many hormonal changes. Sometimes these changes affect your body’s ability to make insulin. When a pregnant woman is not able to make enough insulin, she may be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
Some women have a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes. Having prediabetes increases the risk of developing gestational diabetes. Women who are overweight or who have had gestational diabetes with other pregnancies are more likely to develop gestational diabetes. While these factors and others increase your chance of developing gestational diabetes, many women are diagnosed without any prior indication. If your gestational diabetes is not managed well, it can lead to other serious complications for you and your baby.
How Gestational Diabetes Affects You
Gestational diabetes typically shows up later in your pregnancy. Doctors will usually check for gestational diabetes around 24 weeks. If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes early in the pregnancy, it may be a sign that you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
Women diagnosed with gestational diabetes are more likely to get diabetes with future pregnancies. They also have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes after their pregnancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), roughly 50% of women with gestational diabetes eventually develop type 2 diabetes.
If you have had gestational diabetes, you should be tested for type 2 diabetes in the weeks following your pregnancy. It is also important to work with your doctor to monitor your blood sugar regularly. One way to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes is to continue the healthy lifestyle changes made during pregnancy. Maintaining a nutritious diet and a regular exercise routine can prevent or slow the onset of type 2 diabetes.
How Gestational Diabetes Affects Your Baby
When gestational diabetes is not managed well it can lead to a difficult childbirth because the baby can grow to be a large size during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes can also increase your risk of early labor and related complications. Babies may have low blood sugar shortly after birth if their mother has gestational diabetes during pregnancy. The risk of children developing type 2 diabetes later in life also increases when gestational diabetes is untreated.
Nutrition and Gestational Diabetes
Nutrition is a key part of managing gestational diabetes. Women who are at risk for gestational diabetes or who have already been diagnosed with it should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and be mindful of their portion sizes. Lean, protein-rich foods and low-fat dairy options are other good options for people watching their blood sugar. If you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, it’s a good idea to meet with a registered dietitian. Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions (HPS) patients can schedule a consultation with HPS registered dietitian Megan Hall to develop a personalized nutrition plan. The registered dietitians in Hy-Vee stores are also a great resource!
Nutrition is only one part of treating gestational diabetes. Work with your healthcare team to monitor your blood sugar often and take insulin as needed. You should also talk to your doctor about an exercise routine that will be safe for you and your baby. Regular exercise is an important way to keep your blood sugar under control.
A Whole-Health Approach to Care with Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions
It’s important to take gestational diabetes seriously and follow your treatment plan. Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions (HPS) offers you a whole-health approach to help you live easier, healthier and happier. If you have questions about managing gestational diabetes or other chronic conditions, our team can connect you to clinical experts and reliable resources.