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Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that happens during pregnancy. Like other kinds of diabetes, gestational diabetes affects how the body processes glucose or sugar, causing glucose levels to be higher than they should be.
Jade Elliott sits down with Emily Hart Hayes, a Certified Nurse Midwife with Intermountain Healthcare, on this episode of the Baby Your Baby Podcast. Together they discuss how to prevent gestational diabetes and how to manage it.
How common is gestational diabetes?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, between 2 and 10 percent of pregnancies are affected by gestational diabetes.
Why does it happen during pregnancy?
Pregnancy hormones can make it harder for insulin to move glucose from your blood into other cells in your body.
How can diet and exercise help you prevent or manage gestational diabetes?
We know gestational diabetes is caused by the body’s inability to process glucose normally. Maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet low in sugar, and getting regular exercise all help the body keep blood sugar under control. Exercise is especially important because it helps the body be more sensitive to insulin (the hormone that allows cells to use blood sugar for energy).
Is gestational diabetes routinely tested for during pregnancy? When and how?
Yes, most women will be tested for gestational diabetes. Typically, we test for this between 24- 28 weeks gestation (at the end of the 2nd trimester or beginning of the 3rd trimester). This usually involves drinking a sugary drink with a set amount of glucose in it, then measuring the blood glucose level an hour later to see how the body is able to process that sugar. For women who have risk factors, they may be tested early in pregnancy during the 1st trimester.
What are the warning signs for gestational diabetes?
Most people with gestational diabetes don’t have any symptoms, which is why it’s so important to test for this during routine pregnancy care.
What are the risk factors?
- Being overweight or obese,
- Family history of type 2 diabetes,
- Have previously given birth to a baby who weighed more than nine pounds
- Have had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
- Women who are African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander
Women considering pregnancy can help start the pregnancy out as healthy as possible by eating healthy and exercising to help reduce the chances of developing this disease and give their baby the best possible start in life. For women who have a body mass index in the obese or overweight category, they may reduce their risk of diabetes by losing weight prior to pregnancy.
For more information on gestational diabetes, click here.
The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.