One of your biggest jobs as an expectant mom will to avoiding complications with gestational diabetes. The good news is most GD pregnancies go pretty smoothly with a good treatment plan and compliance. Monitoring your blood sugar, eating right, exercising, and taking any needed medications on schedule will greatly reduce your chances of complications.
Once in awhile, complications do arise. Understand that even with good treatment and care, these things can still happen. It is usually due to other health conditions in the mother, or an issue with the baby. Most complications are treatable with bedrest, medications, and/or early delivery.
This article will help you understand more about complications from gestational diabetes, and some helpful tips that can help you manage GD.
Avoiding Pregnancy Complications with Gestational Diabetes
What are the common complications?
If you are diligently in avoiding complications with Gestational diabetes, you may have nothing to worry about. Always discuss possible complications with your doctor and diabetes educator. In some cases, the following may occur:
- Large Baby/Macrosomia – In this case, the excess blood sugar may cause your baby to grow larger in size and birth weight. This can cause longer labor, injury during natural birth, and increased risk of needing a cesarean section delivery.
- Pre-eclampsia – Gestational diabetes increases the risk of preeclampsia in expectant moms. This condition causes; high blood pressure, high urine protein, increased swelling and possible seizures and placental rupture. Treatment requires bedrest and early delivery between 34 and 37 weeks of pregnancy.
- Low Blood Sugar/Hypoglycemia in Newborns – As soon as your baby is born, they may experience a severe drop in blood sugar. This is because their body is accustomed to getting large amounts of blood sugar from you and their insulin is in overdrive. After they are disconnected from your blood supply, their insulin is still circulating, but the source of blood sugar is cut off. Babies born to mothers with GD will need to be fed right away. If you choose to breastfeed, the hospital may encourage you to give some supplemental formula or glucose water the first few days until the baby stabilizes. Babies with low blood sugar may suffer from; breathing issues, seizures, and be extremely lethargic.
- Low Electrolyte Levels – Gestational diabetes may affect your baby’s electrolyte levels such as; calcium and magnesium. Your baby may begin to have muscle spasms in the feet/hands and need to have intravenous calcium and magnesium.
- Breathing Issues/Respiratory Distress Syndrome – Babies born to mothers with GD are more prone to breathing problems at birth, even if they are full-term. Your baby may need supplemental oxygen or even need to be put on a ventilator for a few days.
- Increased Jaundice – Most babies get jaundice in the first few days of life. Babies from mom’s with GD have an increased risk of severe jaundice needing extended hospitalization under ultraviolet lights.
- Fetal Loss (Rare) – Pregnancies with gestational diabetes usually progress very normally and are often delivered a week or two prior to the due date. In some cases, there have been cases of fetal loss after the 37th week of pregnancy. This is rare, but can occur.
- Increased Risk of Type 2 Diabetes – After a pregnancy with GD, both mother and baby have a slightly increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. While GD does not cause diabetes, the factors involved can increase the risk. These include; obesity, family history of diabetes, poor diet, and lack of exercise. You can take steps early on to help prevent this in you and your child.
Tips For Preventing Complications
You can take steps to help prevent complications during your pregnancy and after your baby is born. It really is pretty easy to fit into your daily routine and you will find yourself having a healthier pregnancy overall. Your doctor and diabetes educator may give you more information on prevention, as well. Here are a few points to remember:
1. Go To Your Doctor Visits
Don’t miss any appointments with your doctor and your diabetes educator. They will monitor your blood sugar levels, urine glucose levels, and answer any questions about your routine and treatment plan. They will also keep a very close eye on your weight gain throughout the pregnancy. You will also most likely have extra ultrasounds to monitor the size of your growing baby to make sure he or she is not getting to large.
2. Check Your Blood Sugar Often
This is one of the most important things you can do to prevent complications. Keeping your blood sugar at a stable level helps you have a more normal pregnancy. The only way to keep track is to check your blood sugar a few times daily and making necessary adjustments to keep it in range. You may have to adjust carbohydrate intake and/or medications as your doctor orders. The only way this can be done is with frequent blood sugar checks.
3. Eat The Right Foods
You will need to balance your carbohydrates and proteins to make sure you don’t have blood sugar spikes and crashes. Your diabetic educator will help you come up with a meal plan that will give you and your growing baby just the right nutrition for your energy and baby’s stable growth.
4. Take Your Medications as Directed
Some moms with GD do require insulin or possibly other medications during pregnancy. Make sure you use them exactly as directed by your doctor. Make sure you tell your doctor any other medications you might have been taking prior to pregnancy, especially if you were diabetic. Some diabetes medications are not safe for use during pregnancy, so your doctor will prescribe you the right ones that are safe.
5. Breastfeed Your Baby
Studies show that mothers who breastfeed their infants after gestational diabetes have less incidence of Type 2 diabetes in the future. It also helps reduce your weight faster and decreases recovery time.