Rates of gestational diabetes are on the rise worldwide, which seen more in the United States, particularly in the African American, Hispanic, Asian American, American Indian and Alaskan native communities.
However, any woman can develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
Determination of gestational diabetes is made by a laboratory blood test. The diagnosis often comes as a complete surprise as most women have no symptoms.
It’s not unusual for women to feel scared, angry or guilty about their diagnosis. Healthcare providers will address these very normal concerns.
Once you are diagnosed, it is important to take action quickly. Your obstetrician will guide you in this aspect.
You will be asked to make some lifestyle changes in order to manage this condition successfully.
The immediate treatment for gestational diabetes is a meal plan for diabetes tailored for pregnancy, which will provide adequate nutrition for your baby and control your blood glucose levels.
The meal plan will modify carbohydrate ingestion with special attention to portion sizes and the spacing of meals and snacks.
You also will be asked to check your blood glucose levels four times each day: before breakfast and one hour after the start of each meal.
This will involve a finger stick, which produces a drop of blood that is tested using a blood glucose meter.
You will be taught how to do this and how to monitor urine for ketones, a substance your body produces when it does not have access to enough insulin.
Additionally, a low – intensity physical activity, such as walking, will be encouraged if possible to help lower your blood glucose levels and to avoid excessive weight gain.
Increased risk of getting type 2 – post delivery
After you’ve delivered your baby, it is important to be vigilant about eating right and staying active – that’s because women who have had gestational diabetes have a 50% risk of developing type 2 diabetes in 7 to 10 years after the birth of the child.
Unlike gestational diabetes, once type 2 has been diagnosed, it doesn’t go away.
After delivery, women who have had gestational diabetes and are overweight should aim to lose 7% of their pre-pregnancy weight, which will reduce their risk of getting type 2 diabetes by 60%