7 Things to Know about Gestational Diabetes Blood Sugar Levels

Gestational Diabetes Blood Sugar Levels

There is so much that can go wrong during a pregnancy. For nine long months, there is no shortage of worry or anxiety for an expecting mother. One of the biggest worries surrounds health, both that of the mother and the soon to be born baby. Some conditions are rather common during pregnancy, and one of them is gestational diabetes, which is thought to occur in nearly ten percent of pregnant women. While it can sound very scary, it is a condition that can be easily managed by healthcare professionals. From the time that gestational diabetes blood sugar levels are detected until the baby is delivered, doctors and nurses work with expecting mothers to make sure that both they and their new bundles of joy are healthy. Following directions and making good choices with regards diet and lifestyle can significantly impact the condition. But, part of the battle is understanding it; and a good place to start is with these seven things to know about gestational diabetes.

1. Gestational Diabetes is Often Diagnosed around 24 Weeks

The simple truth is that most women do not know that they are even pregnant until at least 8 weeks or so along, and therefore the finding of gestational diabetes blood sugar levels is not often made until sometime thereafter. In many cases, this occurs much later in pregnancy, and closer to the six month mark. This can be for many reasons including when diagnostic tests are performed and when, if at all, any symptoms present. Because there is still not a definitive answer as to what causes these high blood sugar levels during pregnancy, it may not be considered early on unless risk factors or family history exist.

2. Being Diagnosed with the Condition does not mean it Existed Before Conception or will Remain After Birth, and for many Women, Blood Sugar Levels Return to Normal

One of the biggest fears that women have is that if they develop diabetes during pregnancy, they will remain diabetic following delivery. In most cases, this does not occur. Many women can develop abnormally elevated gestational diabetes blood sugar levels only during the time that they are pregnant, only to have the levels of glucose in their blood return to normal after the baby is born. While scary, the condition is very manageable in most cases and does not lead to long term disease or illness.

3. There is no Definitive Consensus on what Causes Gestational Diabetes or why Pregnancy can Affect Blood Sugar Levels

The medical community might not be certain on just what the relationship between diabetes and pregnancy is, but they have few pretty good ideas. One of the most commonly accepted explanations actually revolves around hormones – which any woman who has been pregnant can attest – are in abundant supply during gestation. While a baby grows and develops in the womb, it is helped along by hormones that are supplied by the placenta. This activity is necessary for the healthy development of a baby. How this process relates to gestational diabetes blood sugar levels is a bit more complicated. The hormone supplying activity of the placenta can actually prevent or block the mother’s body from using insulin as it should, in a phenomenon known as insulin resistance.

4. Poorly Controlled Blood Sugar Levels in Pregnant Women Affect Both Mother and Baby, Although at Different Stages During the Pregnancy

It is incredibly important for gestational diabetes blood sugar levels to be properly controlled throughout the entire pregnancy. Serious health risks are present for both the mother and child if proper health management steps are not taken. However, the types of risks are different for the mother than they are for the baby, and they are evident at different stages throughout. For instance, the mother may experience symptoms of elevated gestational diabetes blood sugar levels closer to the time of detection, in the earlier months of pregnancy. For the baby, the risk of birth defects as a result of high gestational diabetes blood sugar levels comes later, after the baby’s body has become developed. This is because for the mother, her insulin resistance as a result of the hormone supplying placenta’s blocking action means that the pancreas is working overtime to compensate, however her body is not letting her use it. Since the insulin being produced by the mother’s body does not reduce the amount of glucose in her blood, the surplus travels through the placenta to the baby, leading to elevated sugar levels in blood of the unborn child. These elevated levels of sugar cause the baby’s pancreas to make more insulin in response, which results in an abundance of energy that the baby cannot use. The end result in many cases is a birth defect called macrosomia, also called “fat baby.” The condition can lead to not only a visible facial deformity but also damage to the shoulders as well as breathing problems.

5. Gestational Diabetes Blood Sugar Levels are Much Different from Diabetes Sufferers that are not Pregnant

For a non pregnant individual that has Type 2 diabetes, their normal blood sugar levels may reach heights of 200 mg/dL following a meal. They are considered to have extremely high blood sugar and can become symptomatic when they go over 200 mg/dL and upwards to 240 mg/dL or higher. In terms of gestational diabetes blood sugar levels, the limits are much different. Testing is best done before meals, as a fasting blood sugar reading is most accurate. This is because various foods and various types of foods can have a significant impact on blood glucose levels, especially types of simple carbohydrates. For women with gestational diabetes, a fasting blood sugar level of 95 mg/ dL is the recommended target. Following a meal, readings of 120-140 mg/dL depending on time of reading are recommended target numbers. These figures are far less than non-pregnant sufferers of type two diabetes, who may frequently encounter glucose levels higher than these.

6. There is Significant Difference Between Women who Develop Diabetes During Pregnancy (Gestational) and those in which it Existed in Prior

For more reasons than one, having diabetes before getting pregnant and developing it during pregnancy are very different. One way this is true is in terms of management. Diet and exercise are important in both cases as is regular monitoring of blood glucose levels. However, women who have preexisting diabetes may no longer be able to use medicines that they were previously taking while they are pregnant. Further, delivery can be different for women who develop gestational diabetes blood sugar levels during pregnancy than women who had the condition beforehand. In some cases, deliveries are planned for certain dates or cesarean sections are performed to reduce the risk of complications.

7. Weight is as Much a Risk Factor for Developing Gestational Diabetes as it is in Women Who are not Pregnant

Weight is a huge contributing factor for the development of diabetes in general. And, women who are overweight stand a greater chance of both developing Type 2 diabetes as well as experiencing gestational diabetes blood sugar levels during a pregnancy. A few pounds of weight lost can mean the difference between developing and not developing the condition. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help prevent the onset of the condition. When gestational diabetes is present, diet and exercise are still important in terms of managing the condition. Many women stick to a gestational diabetes diet plan in response. These types of diets are often vague, but typically limit fat intake to no more than 30% of total caloric intake and reducing portion size. Along with healthy choices like fiber, fruits and vegetables, these types of diets can help lead to better overall health as well as aiding in managing the condition.