Gestational Diabetes and You
When Dr. Antara Pothuloori took the blood test during her pregnancy, she wasn’t too surprised by the results. With a family history of diabetes, she was almost prepared for the news she tested positive for gestational diabetes.
“I remember thinking, ‘Well, this is not fun,’” said Dr. Pothuloori with a giggle.
Now, Dr. Pothuloori, an OB/GYN at Methodist Physicians Clinic Women’s Center, uses her experience to help talk with other expecting moms as they test for the disease.
“I can relate to my patients and talk to them on a very real level when it comes to how to live with gestational diabetes.”
Dr. Antara Pothuloori
Methodist Physicians Clinic OB/GYN
Seven out of every 100
Gestational diabetes affects about seven of every 100 women during pregnancy. Much like “regular” type 1 or type 2 diabetes, it’s a condition where the body loses its ability to regulate blood sugars.
“Gestational diabetes develops in pregnancy approximately around 26 to 28 weeks gestation,” said Dr. Pothuloori. “It’s a little bit different than what we consider regular diabetes because the way it develops is not necessarily the same. The hormones of pregnancy essentially compete with insulin so they create an insulin resistant environment.”
Everyone is at risk
And because of the way gestational diabetes is different from type 1 or type 2 diabetes, anyone can be at risk.
“Even if you are not at risk for type 1 or type 2 you can still get gestational diabetes,” said Dr. Pothuloori. “If you are thin, healthy, or don’t have other risk factors, you’re still at risk for gestational diabetes. That’s why we screen everybody and not just those who are at risk for the other types.”
Higher risk factors
While every pregnant woman carries a risk of developing gestational diabetes, there are factors that could put you at a higher risk:
- If you are older than 25.
- If you are overweight or gained a lot of weight during pregnancy.
- If you have a family history of diabetes. (One or more of your family members has diabetes.)
- If you are African-American, Native American, Asian, Hispanic or Pacific Islander.
- If you had gestational diabetes in a past pregnancy.
- If you had a baby in a past pregnancy who weighed more than 9 pounds or was stillborn.
Simple blood test
Finding out if you have gestational diabetes is easy as a simple blood test. If you test positive, in most cases, taking care of your diabetes all about diet and exercise.
“We generally manage your diabetes with diet control, some exercise, and regular checking of blood sugars,” said Dr. Pothuloori. “Some women do need medication or even insulin to help manage their diabetes.”
Why so important?
And why is regulating your blood sugar so important? Having a high blood sugar throughout pregnancy can put both you and your baby at risk.
“The risk to the mother includes excess weight gain in pregnancy as well as all the complications of diabetes,” said Dr. Pothuloori. “If you have very high blood sugar you can have what’s called diabetic ketoacidosis, and get very sick. More commonly, diabetes puts you at risk for having a larger baby, and a baby with disproportionate size. The abdomen or shoulders might be larger and that can put you at risk for shoulder dystocia in labor which is something that can be scary and cause difficulty in delivering the baby.”
Babies whose mothers have gestational diabetes can also have difficulty regulating their own blood sugars after delivery.
The best way to protect you and your baby from gestational diabetes is to take care of yourself during pregnancy. Watch your weight and be sure to exercise regularly, and if you are diagnosed, it’s important to monitor your blood sugars closely and discuss the results with your doctor.
If you have any questions about gestational diabetes, be sure to discuss those concerns with your Methodist Physicians Clinic health care provider.
Gestational diabetes video