March 26 is Diabetes Alert Day! It’s a one-day wake-up call reminding everyone to find out you are at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.
It’s especially important for women who are pregnant to be checked for Gestational Diabetes. It’s a growing epidemic spurred on by increasing obesity in pregnant women. Gestational Diabetes is caused by an insulin blocking hormone produced by the placenta, which in turn causes high blood sugar during pregnancy.
Here are key takeaways to increase awareness for all pregnant women and their families:
Testing: Gestational Diabetes is detected by an oral glucose tolerance test between 24-28 weeks gestation.
Symptoms: Pregnant women may have no symptoms or may experience thirst and frequent urination.
Risk Factors: Being overweight, history of gestational diabetes during a past pregnancy, delivery of a baby weighing over 9 lbs., PCOS (hormonal disorder), family history of Type 2 Diabetes
Potential Complications: Mom – pre-eclampsia, Type 2 diabetes later in life; Baby – premature birth, stillbirth, jaundice, higher than normal weight
Treatment: Treating gestational diabetes comes down to one key factor: controlling your blood sugar. It is very important to monitor your blood glucose level closely throughout pregnancy to ensure that your blood sugar remains in your target range. This is accomplished by:
- Eating wisely. Pay attention to what you eat, how much you eat and when you eat. Seek professional help to develop a meal plan that’s full of good-for-you and good-for-the-baby foods.
- Physical Activity. When you’re active, your body uses more glucose, doesn’t need as much insulin to transport the glucose, and your body becomes less insulin resistant. Since your body isn’t using insulin well when you have gestational diabetes, a lower insulin resistance is a very good thing. Physical activity also helps control your weight during pregnancy, keep your heart healthy, improve your sleep and even reduce stress and lighten your mood. After checking with your doctor about what’s safe to do while you’re pregnant, try to get at least 30 minutes of activity every day… anything that gets you moving rather than sitting.
- Insulin/Medications. Most people are able to control blood glucose levels through adjustments in diet and exercise. However, 10-20% of women with gestational diabetes may require insulin or another medication to assist your body in regulating your blood glucose level. These medications are safe for your baby.
Don’t be anxious! Be informed! Contact your OB provider to get tested!