Gestational diabetes refers to when a pregnant woman who has never had diabetes develops the condition during pregnancy. This high blood sugar can pose health risks to the baby and mother both during the pregnancy and after delivery. Women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes need to manage the condition carefully to prevent pregnancy complications. Although healthy women can still get gestational diabetes, there are ways to limit the chances of developing this condition. Here’s what women over age 30 or with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) need to know about preventing gestational diabetes.
PCOS INCREASES RISK
PCOS is a condition that causes hormonal imbalances and can interfere with ovulation. Often, women who have PCOS struggle with fertility, although getting pregnant is not impossible . Women who do get pregnant with the condition, however, should be aware that the risk for gestational diabetes is higher. This is because this condition is associated with high blood sugar and insulin resistance. Because of this risk, pregnant women with PCOS may be tested for gestational diabetes earlier than at the routine 24-28 weeks.
AGE INCREASES RISK
Age is also a risk factor for gestational diabetes. Women who are pregnant after the age of 25 have a greater risk for the condition. Additionally, having a family history of type 2 diabetes and being overweight are also risk factors for the condition.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE GESTATIONAL DIABETES?
Most women experience no noticeable symptoms of gestational diabetes. However, some possible signs can include:
Excessive weight gain
The only way to know for sure about gestational diabetes is to get a glucose screening or glucose tolerance test during pregnancy. This screening is routine during the second trimester of pregnancy. Women who are at higher risk for gestational diabetes may want to discuss being screened earlier with a healthcare provider.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Most women know that moderate exercise and a healthful diet are important at all times, not just during pregnancy. But when a woman is pregnant, these healthful habits become important for preventing gestational diabetes. Additionally, healthy eating and exercise are important for managing gestational diabetes if a woman has already been diagnosed. If a woman has gestational diabetes, a doctor may also recommend medication to control blood sugar during pregnancy.
A HEALTHY PREGNANCY IS POSSIBLE
Women who get pregnant after 30 or who have PCOS will have more risks associated with pregnancy. One of these risks is gestational diabetes. However, there are steps a woman can take to prevent or manage gestational diabetes and have a healthy pregnancy. Women who want to become pregnant should discuss risks and lifestyle changes with a healthcare provider on an individual basis.