Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that specifically affects pregnant women. It’s a condition that can develop in women who don’t already have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Around 2% to 10% of all pregnant women in the United States develop the condition every year. Fortunately, the condition can be managed to ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby.
It’s important to know that after your baby is born, you aren’t automatically cured of diabetes. In this article, we will discuss the link between gestational and type 2 diabetes, and what it means for you and your child.
What Can Cause Gestational Diabetes?
A pregnant woman can develop gestational diabetes if her body doesn’t produce enough insulin. The pancreas is responsible for making insulin, a hormone that regulates the sugar in your body. Pregnancy is a time when hormones naturally go through a variety of changes, which can result in insulin resistance.
Later in pregnancy, all women have some insulin resistance. Some may even have it prior to getting pregnant. This can increase the risk of developing gestational diabetes.
Risk Factors for Gestational Diabetes
Certain things can increase a woman’s risk for gestational diabetes. Women who have high blood pressure, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and those who are obese are at higher risk of the condition. Other risk factors include a sedentary lifestyle and a family history of heart disease or diabetes.
Additionally, women who are Black, Asian, or Native American have a greater risk of gestational diabetes.
Gestational Diabetes Considered an Early Warning
Women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy can consider the condition an early warning about their health risks. Seeking treatment during pregnancy gives mothers and babies a better chance to be healthier. At the same time, gestational diabetes has a direct link with type 2 diabetes as it raises the risk factors for type 2 diabetes after childbirth.
Both moms and babies can be at risk of type 2 diabetes after gestational diabetes. However, in women who already have a risk of type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes doesn’t necessarily add to that risk.
Women who are aiming to get pregnant can take measures to reduce their risk of gestational diabetes. The best prevention methods include losing weight for those who are overweight or obese and incorporating physical activity into their everyday routines. However, women who are already pregnant should not try to lose weight.
Treatment for Gestational Diabetes
Women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes can take steps to manage the condition. It’s important to attend all prenatal appointments and do the following for treatment:
- Check blood sugar. Ensure that blood sugar levels are within the healthy range at all times.
- Consume a healthy diet. Eating healthy foods in the proper amounts at the right times is essential.
- Stay active. Regular physical activity at a moderately intense pace can keep blood sugar levels healthy. Brisk walking is particularly good for pregnant women.
- Monitor the baby. The doctor will continuously monitor the growth and development of the baby.
In some cases, the doctor may prescribe insulin and other diabetes medications if the above steps are not enough to manage gestational diabetes.
Keep yourself and your baby healthy by making some key lifestyle changes to help you manage your health and avoid the link between gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes later.
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