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Pregnancy: Gestational Diabetes

Por Claudia M. González, MS, RD, LD/N* -
Pregnancy: Gestational Diabetes

Pregnancy usually lasts 40 weeks. During the first trimester (weeks 1-13) the baby’s heart, brain, and other organs develop. The placenta is also formed during this time. During the second trimester (weeks 14-27) the baby grows and begins to move. Around week 18, you can hear the baby’s heartbeat. During the third trimester (weeks 28-40) the baby grows rapidly and begins to be more active.

Gestational diabetes is a condition where the mother develops diabetes only during pregnancy. It does not occur until the eighth week and it is more commonly detected during the last trimester. Diabetes is a disorder that happens when a person’s body does not produce enough insulin. Glucose is a type of sugar our body produces from the food we eat. The insulin our body produces helps the glucose get to the cells, where it is converted into energy for our daily activities.Via the umbilical cord, the placenta provides the baby with glucose and water through the mother’s blood. The mother produces special hormones needed for pregnancy.

The greater the number of hormones, the more insulin required. Most expecting mothers can produce enough insulin to maintain normal blood sugar levels, but too many hormones may prevent the insulin from working adequately. In these cases, the mother can develop gestational diabetes.

What can you do?

Eat nutritious and well-balanced meals that include the different food groups. Eat on a regular schedule and follow an exercise program to help your insulin perform better. If you take medicine, it has to be regulated by a health care professional. Read and learn as much as you can in order to adequately treat gestational diabetes.

What happens after birth?

After the baby’s arrival the special hormones produced during pregnancy return to their normal levels. The additional insulin is not needed and in most cases, the diabetes disappears. Since the body had difficulty producing sufficient insulin during pregnancy, there is a risk of developing diabetes later on.

Is my baby at risk?

Most babies born from mothers with gestational diabetes are born healthy and without any complications, especially if the mother controls her blood sugar levels during pregnancy. If the levels are unbalanced, the baby will tend to grow more due to the excess glucose received from the mother. Pregnant women should have regular check-ups with their health care professionals, regardless of whether they have gestational diabetes. This is the best way to counteract possible complications and give birth to a beautiful healthy baby.

*Dietitian

 

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