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Gestational Diabetes

gestational diabetesWhat is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes, or high blood sugar, that only pregnant women get. In fact, the word gestational means pregnant. If a woman gets high blood sugar when she's pregnant, but she never had high blood sugar before, she has gestational diabetes. Nearly 135,000 pregnant women get the condition every year, making it one of the top health concerns related to pregnancy.

If not treated, gestational diabetes can cause problems for mothers and babies. Some of these problems can be serious.

Gestational diabetes symptoms

Usually there are no symptoms, or the symptoms are mild and not life threatening to the pregnant woman. Often, the blood glucose level returns to normal after delivery.

Symptoms may include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections, including those of the bladder, vagina, and skin
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • WWeight loss in spite of increased appetite

But there is some good news

  • Most of the time, gestational diabetes goes away after the baby is born. The changes in your body that cause gestational diabetes normally occur only when you are pregnant. After the baby is born, your body goes back to normal and the condition goes away.
  • Gestational diabetes is treatable, especially if you find out about it early in your pregnancy. The best way to control gestational diabetes is to find out you have it early and start treatment quickly.
  • Treating gestational diabetes greatly lowers the baby's chances of having problems.

Gestational diabetes treatment: diet and exercise

Many women with gestational diabetes have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies because they follow a treatment plan from their health care provider.

Each woman should have a specific plan designed just for her needs, but there are some general ways to stay healthy with gestational diabetes:/p>

  • Know your blood sugar and keep it under control – By testing how much sugar is in your blood, it is easier to keep it in a healthy range.  Women usually need to test a drop of their blood several times a day to find out their blood sugar level.
  • Eat a healthy diet – Your health care provider can make a plan with the best diet for you.  Usually controlling carbohydrates is an important part of a healthy diet for women with gestational diabetes because carbohydrates affect blood sugar.
  • Get regular, moderate physical activity – Exercise can help control blood sugar levels.  Your health care provider can tell you the best activities and right amount for you.
  • Keep a healthy weight – The amount of weight gain that is healthy for you will depend on how much you weighed before pregnancy. It is important to track your both your overall weight gain and weekly rate of gain.
  • Keep daily records of your diet, physical activity, and glucose level – Women with gestational diabetes should write down their blood sugar numbers, physical activity, and everything they eat and drink in a daily record book.  This can help track how well the treatment is working and what, if anything, needs to be changed.

Some women with gestational diabetes will also need to take insulin to help manage their diabetes.  The extra insulin can help lower their blood sugar level. Some women might also have to test their urine to see if they are getting enough glucose.