Glucose screening time! The very words stir up anxiety in many women, not because we are afraid of the results but afraid to drink the horrifying, sweet, sugar substance intended to test for gestational diabetes.
If you have been pregnant, you know! It can be a challenge to get this tiny bottle to the back of your throat!
So, what is gestational diabetes exactly? We all know we don’t want to have it but how does it happen in the first place?
Gestational diabetes isn’t always preventable and science isn’t 100% certain why some women have more insulin problems while pregnant, than others. Screening for gestational diabetes takes place between the 24-28th weeks of pregnancy, after the baby’s body is formed. According to the Center for Disease Control, gestational diabetes can affect up to 9.2% of pregnancies in this country.
We know there are some risk factors that include – obesity prior to and during pregnancy, a history of diabetes in the family or in the mother, insulin resistance in the mother prior to pregnancy and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. There is another possible cause to gestational diabetes as well.
The placenta is the life source for baby; it is how a baby is fed and nourished with vitamins, minerals, nutrients and hormones so that it can grow properly. Some of the hormones in this process, can block or prevent insulin in the mother from doing its job for mom. This result is insulin resistance. The mother’s pancreas works overtime to produce more insulin for the mother to take care of her own glucose so it can be turned into energy for her. When it can’t keep up with the glucose load, gestational diabetes is the result; too much glucose in the blood stream.
While insulin doesn’t cross the placenta, glucose does. Not only does mom suffer from the extra glucose but the baby gets an extra dose as well. This causes the baby’s pancreas to work harder to control and convert the glucose to energy but, there’s only so much a baby can do. This added glucose is the reason mom’s with gestational diabetes tend to have larger babies.
Preventing the things we know cause gestational diabetes is the first thing a woman can do to make sure she experiences the best possible pregnancy.
- Maintain a healthy weight before and during pregnancy
- Exercise regularly
- Make and keep all your prenatal and pregnancy doctor appointments and keep up on all screenings.
Even the best prevention plan can result in gestational diabetes. If this happens to you, make sure you begin treatment as quickly as possible and follow your doctor’s advice.
- Healthy nutritious diet with a variety of nutrients
- Focus on complex carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Avoid simple sugars.
- Do not skip meals, this causes peaks and valleys in your insulin levels. Eat 3 small meals and 2-4 snacks
- Establish a regular exercise routine
- Test blood sugar as required and recommended by your doctor
Remember that gestational diabetes doesn’t have any real symptoms in the beginning so make sure you do the screenings that comes with prenatal care. A little prevention and treatment, gestational diabetes can be effectively managed and mom and baby do well!