Maintain Your Health
Staying healthy during your pregnancy is a goal for all moms-to-be. Eating right, drinking plenty of fluids, and staying active are three great ways to keep you and your baby healthy.
You’re Eating for Two
You’ve probably been told, “You’re eating for two now,” by some well-meaning friends or relatives during your nine-month journey to motherhood. You could take this as a license to eat more or eat whatever and whenever you want, but the reality is that doing that is most definitely not advisable. If anything, it’s more important to be mindful of what and when you eat. It’s critical to ensure your baby is getting the nutrients he or she needs. A vital source of this nutrition relates to what you consume during your pregnancy.
Weight Gain is Normal
Yes, you’re going to gain weight as you carry your baby; however, paying attention to how much and how rapidly you’re gaining the added weight is critical. Your prenatal team will help you monitor your weight, so don’t be shy about asking questions. Another important aspect of your health while pregnant is your glucose level, which will be monitored by your physician.
Why Monitor Glucose Level?
The glucose level (or blood sugar) is an important measurement for anyone who wants to monitor their diabetic tendencies. Pregnancy is a time when gestational diabetes can develop in women who have never had diabetes before. Between 2 and 10% of pregnant women in the United States will end up with gestational diabetes each year. If you’re one of the women who are affected, don’t despair. Your doctor can help you manage gestational diabetes, should you develop it, and keep you and your baby healthy and happy.
During pregnancy, women develop gestational diabetes when their systems cannot produce enough insulin. Insulin is produced by your pancreas. The pancreas is how blood sugar gets into your body and gives you and your baby energy. Because your hormone levels are elevated during pregnancy, and you naturally gain some weight, your cells may begin to use the insulin produced by the pancreas in a less efficient manner, which is known as insulin resistance. With insulin resistance, your whole system will need more insulin. A bit of insulin resistance occurs in all pregnancies, especially in the final months. However, some women have insulin resistance before they’re pregnant or in the early phases of pregnancy. If they had to use more insulin before they got pregnant, they are more likely to get gestational diabetes.
Does Gestational Diabetes Go Away?
In the majority of pregnancies, gestational diabetes will disappear soon after the baby is born. Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed when the condition does not improve. To prevent type 2 diabetes, you can work with your doctor to have your glucose monitored regularly to keep tabs on your levels.
Gestational diabetes often doesn't show any symptoms, so it's important to look at your risk factors, like your family history, to keep an eye on your chances of getting it. Glucose testing is a routine part of all prenatal appointments.
Test Between Weeks 24 – 28
Your prenatal team will check your blood sugar level as part of your gestational diabetes test. The normal time for this test is around week 24; however, if you’re at an increased risk, your physician might conduct the test earlier. Sometimes women figure out that they have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes instead of gestational diabetes.
You don’t need to change what you eat or drink in preparation for this test; in fact, there’s no preparation for it.
At your appointment, you will be asked to drink a glucose drink, and after an hour passes, your OB-GYN’s staff will do a blood test to measure your blood glucose level. If it’s elevated, you’ll be asked to return to the office for a glucose tolerance test.
The glucose tolerance test does require you to stop eating or drinking 8–14 hours before the test. You’ll again drink a liquid with glucose in it, and have your blood drawn before and several times after this test, with your levels being checked each time.
If you do end up testing positive for gestational diabetes, your risk of also developing high blood pressure while carrying your baby is elevated. You are also more likely to have a baby that weighs nine pounds or more, which could mean that you need to have a C-section.
Risks for your baby include low blood sugar or being prone to type 2 diabetes as an adult. The baby could also be born prior to the due date, and early births can lead to breathing problems.
Lower Your Risk of Gestational Diabetes
Keep your weight at a healthy level prior to becoming pregnant. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, consuming a healthy calorie intake, and getting regular exercise are all habits that help women keep their weight in check prior to and during pregnancy.
Work with your physician to evaluate how much weight you’re gaining, with the goal of not putting on weight too quickly. Even though it's not a good idea to diet when you're pregnant, you can still eat healthy foods and exercise. Brisk walking and even some low-impact aerobics are usually advisable. Before working out while pregnant, you should always check with your doctor to make sure it's okay.
If you’re in the clear for exercising, just be careful not to push yourself too hard. Never exercise to the point of being out of breath or feeling faint. If you do experience any warning signs while exercising, get in touch with your OB-GYN’s office immediately.
With help and advice from your physician, you will be able to stay informed about your blood sugar while pregnant, and if you do end up with gestational diabetes, you can manage it appropriately. Just keep that communication with your doctor flowing!If you’d like to learn more about what to expect during pregnancy, check out our blog post on the third trimester.
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