Dr. Lela Emad shares insight into gestational diabetes and what pregnant women need to consider when it comes to diabetes to ensure a healthy pregnancy.
November is National Diabetes Month and is observed every year to bring attention to diabetes and its impact on millions of Americans. As part of this year’s theme Managing Diabetes – It’s Not Easy, But It’s Worth It the Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group is focusing on Gestational diabetes, a form of glucose intolerance that is diagnosed during pregnancy.
Nationally, about seven to 14 percent of all pregnant women develop gestational diabetes. And, according to the California Diabetes and Pregnancy Program, ethnic groups such as African American, Asian American, East Indian, Latina/Hispanic and Native American are more vulnerable to developing gestational diabetes, as are women who are overweight or have type 2 diabetes in the family.
“Diabetic women have more risk for complications both during and after pregnancy,” explains Dr. Emad. “It is important for pregnant women who know they have diabetes to manage symptoms, and for all women either pregnant or considering pregnancy to get checked for diabetes to avoid any potential complications.”
Gestational diabetes also increases the risk that the mother and the baby may develop type 2 diabetes later in life. Additional complications to pregnant women due to diabetes can include:
- high blood pressure
- eye disease
- kidney disease
- too much weight gain
- severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)
Babies can also be at risk for complications including; high birth weight, birth defects, delivery complications and jaundice. Diabetes can lead to higher rates of miscarriage and stillbirth, so it is very important to manage symptoms early in the pregnancy under the care of a healthcare provider. Ongoing treatment is necessary to bring maternal blood glucose to normal levels and to help avoid any potential complications for the baby.
Following a well-balanced, healthy diet is an important component to a healthy pregnancy and for women with diabetes, diet plays an especially important role. Not eating properly can cause glucose levels to fluctuate from too high or too low, which can result in some fairly serious symptoms. Glucose levels can be controlled with a combination of eating right, exercising and taking medications as directed by a health care provider. Check-ups may also need to be scheduled more frequently.
Pregnant women with a history of diabetes, or who have developed gestational diabetes, are more likely to experience low blood glucose levels (hypoglycemia) and it usually occurs when skipping a meal, or when altering eating routines. Hypoglycemia can also manifest following vigorous exercise. Typical symptoms include; dizziness, sudden hunger, sweating, feeling shaky or general weakness.
Adopting and maintaining an exercise routine will help to support normal glucose levels. Exercise also helps to control weight; improves energy levels, aids sleep, and reduces symptoms including; backaches, constipation and bloating.
Medications During Pregnancy
Insulin dosages for women with pre-existing diabetes will usually increase during pregnant. Insulin is considered safe to use during pregnancy and does not cause birth defects.
Diabetes, Labor and Delivery
If problems with the pregnancy arise, labor may be induced prior to the due date. During labor, glucose levels are closely monitored. Occasionally insulin through an intravenous (IV) line may be required during labor.
Diabetes and Breastfeeding
Whether or not diabetes is a factor, experts highly recommend breastfeeding as it provides the baby the best means of nutrition and it is good for the mother as well. Breastfeeding can help reduce extra weight gained during pregnancy. It is also hailed by researchers for helping to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.
“Working with a specialist to manage blood sugar before and during pregnancy can be a life saver,” says Dr. Emad. “It an important measure to take to decrease the risk of complications, and to provide the best outcomes for both mother and baby.”
About the Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group
When thinking about having a baby, The Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group of providers encourages women to begin making healthy lifestyle changes one full year prior to trying to get pregnant. This process improves the chances of becoming pregnant soon after beginning to try, and prepares a woman’s body to provide the best environment for her infant.
For women who may be considering having a baby it’s important to schedule an appointment with a physician or certified nurse midwife to receive expert guidance from the start. The Women’s OB/GYN Medical Group strives to better the lives of all women with a holistic approach to women’s health. Visit our website to learn more or call 707-579-1102 to schedule an appointment.