Healthy Mother & Baby: Gestational Diabetes

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 2:40 PM comments (0)

gestational diabetesGestational diabetes develops during pregnancy, typically between the 24th and 28th weeks. Most women will experience some change in glucose levels during pregnancy due to fluctuating hormone levels. Gestational diabetes develops when glucose levels rise but a woman’s pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. Developing gestational diabetes does not mean a woman was diabetic prior to her pregnancy, however approximately 20% of women with gestational diabetes will go on to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.  Women with gestational diabetes must make lifestyle changes to ensure their health as well as their baby’s. 

Rebecca Jacobson, MD, Obstetrics/Gynecology, discusses when women should be screened and what changes an expectant mother should make after diagnosis:

Women are screened for gestational diabetes approximately 24-28 weeks into pregnancy. However, women who are at a higher risk for developing gestational diabetes—risk factors such as obesity, previous instance of gestational diabetes, family history of diabetes—will likely require earlier screening. 

It’s important to keep gestational diabetes in check to prevent complications that could affect your baby, such as excessive birth weight, increased risk of cesarean section, increased risk of birth trauma, premature birth, low infant blood sugar at birth, and an increased risk for type 2 diabetes and obesity later in life. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can also result in a baby’s death. 

Treatment options:

  • Monitor blood sugar. Expectant mothers diagnosed with gestational diabetes will likely have to monitor blood sugar upwards of four to five times a day—in the morning and after meals— to keep levels within a healthy range. 
  • Maintain a healthy diet. The right foods and portion sizes, as well as steering clear of sugary snacks and drinks, will help keep sugar levels in check and prevent excess weight gain during pregnancy. Women newly diagnosed with gestational diabetes should work with their doctors and a nutritionist to create a balanced diet plan with weight gain goals because weight loss is not recommended during pregnancy. 
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise is important during pregnancy both for mother and growing baby. Exercise lowers blood sugar levels because the body transports glucose into cells, which produces the energy for physical activity. Moderate-to-vigorous exercise, with a doctor’s permission, is recommended nearly every day of the week.
  • Supplement with medication. Changing one’s diet and regular exercise might not be enough to combat gestational diabetes. Some women will require additional treatment with medication, which can be administered orally or as an injection. 

Have questions about gestational diabetes or advice to offer other women newly diagnosed with gestational diabetes? Join our new online community The Parent 'Hood to start a conversation today. Click here to find out more. 

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High-Risk Pregnancy: Healthy Baby, Healthy Mother

Wednesday, March 07, 2012 8:11 AM comments (0)

High-risk pregnancy

Pregnancy brings about many changes—both for the mother and baby.  While most women have normal, healthy pregnancies, everyone is at some risk for problems.

Issues during a pregnancy can range in severity—from poor nutrition, nausea or fatigue to gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, infectious diseases or premature birth. With the proper planning, education and physician involvement, many risks can be greatly reduced or avoided.

Scott MacGregor, D.O., gives his recommendations about what women can do both before and during their pregnancy to ensure a healthy self and baby:

  • Prior to pregnancy begin prenatal vitamins or folate to reduce the risk of birth defects.
  • Exercise and eat a balanced diet.
  • Consult with your physician or midwife before pregnancy if you have medical problems, such as diabetes or hypertension.
  • Consider genetic screening or testing if you are concerned about problems, such as Down syndrome.
  • Optimize maternal and fetal surveillance for medical problems, such as maternal heart disease, diabetes and hypertension.
  • Optimize obstetric management and fetal surveillance for obstetric problems, such as multiple gestation and prior preterm delivery.
  • Consider fetal testing and surveillance during pregnancy to improve outcome.

What are some things you’ve done to prepare for a healthy pregnancy? What have you done during your pregnancy?

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Have high-risk pregnancy questions? Join Dr. MacGregor for a live medical chat on Friday, March 16 at 1:30 p.m. He’ll answer your questions about risk factors, treatments and signs of high-risk pregnancy. Save the date and submit your early questions today.

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