Listen up, all you soon-to-be mamas or those hoping to be on the baby-making journey! Your health game needs to be on point because one major player you want to keep out of your life is gestational diabetes.
So, what’s this gestational diabetes all about? Well, it’s like when those pregnancy hormones get all up in insulin’s business, and your blood sugar levels go for a rollercoaster ride. And guess what? It mostly happens to folks who weren’t wrestling with diabetes before they got pregnant.
But, hold your horses, because the cases of this sneaky gestational diabetes are on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it’s hitting 2% to 10% of pregnancies each year. That’s a lot more than you’d think, right?
Now, what causes this pesky condition? Well, the experts aren’t entirely sure. It’s like a big ol’ question mark. But there are some risk factors that might make it more likely for you to get tagged with this diagnosis. Things like starting your pregnancy on the hefty side, being a couch potato, or having a history of gestational diabetes in the past.
Oh, and there’s more! If you’re in the club of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), have dealt with prediabetes, or your family tree has a diabetes branch, you might have a front-row seat to this gestational diabetes show. Age over 25? Yep, that’s another ticket to the party. And if you’ve delivered a baby that was tipping the scales at more than 9 pounds, you’re on the list.
Now, what if you’re in the hot seat and you start showing signs? Well, not every mom-to-be who gets this gig will feel it. But if you’re peeing like it’s your job, constantly thirsty, worn out, queasy, or seeing things a bit blurry, and it feels like more than your average pregnancy woes, it’s time to call in the troops, a.k.a. your doc.
And don’t procrastinate, ’cause the sooner you tackle gestational diabetes, the better. If you play your cards right, you can still have a smooth pregnancy and a healthy bundle of joy. But if you let it slide, you might be signing up for some not-so-great stuff like a C-section delivery, a preemie baby, or even birth injuries. And let’s not forget about high blood pressure and preeclampsia, breathing issues for the baby, and low blood sugar that could lead to seizures. Yikes!
But the good news is, with the right know-how, support, and keeping tabs on your glucose levels, you can navigate this bumpy road. Your sugar levels should go back to normal after you pop that baby out, but here’s the catch: about half of the peeps who get gestational diabetes will end up facing type 2 diabetes later on. So, be ready for some blood sugar check-ins post-baby.
Now, let’s talk testing. The best time for a gestational diabetes screening test is between weeks 24 and 28 of your pregnancy. That’s when those pregnancy hormones are in full swing and can mess with your blood sugar levels.
You’ll down a sweet, soda-like drink, and an hour later, they’ll snag a blood sample to check those glucose levels. If the results raise a red flag, you might need to do a three-hour glucose tolerance test to confirm or deny that you’ve got the gestational diabetes ticket.
But what if you’re in that camp of gestational diabetes? Don’t fret, ’cause you’ve got some tricks up your sleeve to keep those sugar levels in check. Most of the time, it’s all about self-care, staying active, and loading up on the right grub.
Balanced nutrition is the name of the game. Cornthwaite, the expert, says you should aim for a mix of high-fiber foods, lean protein, and small, frequent meals to keep your energy steady and those cravings at bay. And don’t be shy to ask for a diabetes educator for a personalized game plan.
Speaking of staying active, your doc can help you figure out a workout plan that’s pregnancy-friendly. And taking a stroll after meals for 15-20 minutes can help your muscles do their thing to keep your glucose in check.
Keep an eye on those sugar levels, and if diet and exercise aren’t enough, your doc might throw insulin or some other meds into the mix.
So, can you dodge this gestational diabetes bullet? In some cases, it might be out of your hands. But if you’ve got weight on your mind, a dose of self-care, and a promise to get moving, you’re already on the right path.
“Discuss weight management goals with your primary care physician or OB ahead of pregnancy,” says Cornthwaite. Even dropping 10% of your body weight can be a game-changer for a healthier pregnancy. So, baby or no baby, it’s time to make those healthy choices and keep that gestational diabetes at bay. You’ve got this, mama!