Gestational diabetes affects 2% to 10% of all pregnancies each year. While there are a number of different variations of diabetes, gestational diabetes explicitly occurs in pregnant women.
In short, during the 2nd or 3rd trimester of pregnancy, many hormones are released into a woman’s body. One effect of these new hormones is developing a sensitivity to insulin, which helps transfer blood sugar into cells for energy. If not proactive, there are several side effects that can impact both mom and baby. Here’s how gestational diabetes can alter mom and baby’s life during pregnancy and postpartum.
Gestational Diabetes Can Cause Adverse Effects on Pregnancy
While gestational diabetes is very similar to type 2, the key differentiator is that it goes away after the child is born. However, if you don’t take the right precautions, several adverse effects can impact your pregnancy and overall health. For starters, gestational diabetes can put you at a higher risk of preeclampsia, or high blood pressure. Which can also induce early labor and increase the chances of a C-section. Preeclampsia can also lead to organ damage, specifically targeting your kidneys and liver. These are unfavorable consequences that can arise as soon as a mother is diagnosed with this disease supporting why it’s important to take the right precautions as quickly as possible.
Your Child’s Health Can Be Altered
Not only can gestational diabetes impact expectant mothers, but it can also impact the baby. During pregnancy, your body has a sensitivity to insulin. This causes more blood sugar to be transferred to the baby, forcing the infant pancreas to work harder to produce insulin. From this, your baby has an abundance of energy that they may not have experienced in a non-gestational diabetic pregnancy. A main concern is fetal macrosomia. This is when the child grows and develops faster than usual, causing your baby to be larger than average. Typically, over 8 pounds 13 ounces. When a child grows to this size, it makes delivery more difficult which further increases the chances for a C-section. There are other complications that could arise from a gestational diabetes pregnancy as well as later on in life for your child, including:
- Premature birth
- Breathing issues
- Low blood pressure
- Low mineral levels
- Type 2 diabetes
Gestational Diabetes Can Influence Life After Pregnancy for Mom
Not only can gestational diabetes impact you during pregnancy, but several issues can arise postpartum. Primarily, 50% of women who have gestational diabetes develop type 2 diabetes later on in life. As a diabetic, you’ll have to monitor glucose levels regularly, schedule frequent doctor visits, and possibly take medication. This is an additional stressor on top of caring for a newborn. Gestational diabetes during pregnancy can also increase your risk of developing postpartum depression. This mental illness takes so much away from enjoying life with your new baby and can have a severe impact on your overall health and wellbeing, as well as the rest of the family. Keep in mind that if you’ve already had gestational diabetes and plan on having more children, you have an increased risk for developing this disease again. Be sure to take proper precautions early on to limit your risk.
Gestational diabetes is a severe health condition that directly affects both mom and baby, and can profoundly affect them later in life. When moms make their overall health a priority at the beginning of their pregnancy, there will be additional time to focus on different aspects of having a child. For example, getting the house ready for the baby, setting up the nursery, and packing your hospital bag. If proactive actions are ignored, gestational diabetes might become the main priority of your pregnancy instead of the joyful moments.