Gestational diabetes affects at least 1 in 20 pregnancies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and it can be extremely frightening.
Right now, one Eyewitness News reporter is actually dealing with the condition during her first pregnancy.
Erin Connolly shared her story and how, despite the risks, you can still have a happy and healthy at 40 weeks.
Connolly said she was shocked when she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes at around 26 weeks.
She said she didn’t know much about it and felt helpless and guilty.
Gestational diabetes is a carbohydrate intolerance that occurs during pregnancy.
After hearing she was now considered a "high risk pregnancy,” Connolly said she was worried about her health and the baby's.
So, she give us an inside look at her experiences and how it is possible to make gestational diabetes a small bump in the road of pregnancy.
"There's often that feeling of ‘oh did I eat too much sugar’ or ‘did I gain too much weight,’” Dr. Emily Rosenbush said. “But really the majority of the time it's strictly a hormonal thing."
But there are some risk factors for developing gestational diabetes. They include being overweight, of a non-white ethnicity, advanced maternal age and having a family history of diabetes.
If the diabetes is not well controlled, doctors said women are at a high risk for pregnancy and delivery complications from high blood pressure, abnormal levels of amniotic fluid and preeclampsia.
There are also risks for the baby such as high birth weight, low blood sugar, breathing problems, shoulder dislocation and jaundice.
"Unfortunately, there is more office visits, more monitoring, more work you have to do,” Rosenbush said. “Assuming it's controlled well, the risks are very minimal."
To help control gestational diabetes the goal is to keep a woman’s blood sugar levels within the safe target range.
To do that, women should keep a strict personal meal plan which typically includes three meals and three snacks about two to three hours apart, with a specific number of carbs allowed at each meal. Plenty of water and exercise are recommended as well as checking your blood sugar.
Women with gestational diabetes have to test their blood sugar levels four times a day. They insert a test strip into the glucometer. Then they take the sterile alcohol pad and choose a finger for the finger prick.
For some women such as Connolly, who can't control their blood sugars through diet and exercise alone, they are asked to take a shot of insulin either once or multiple times a day.
Once a week, Connolly said her fluids are checked through an ultrasound to make sure they're in the healthy range.
Twice weekly, non-stress tests are also a big part of the management plan.
"When you mark the button to say the baby is moving we see that there is an increase in that heart rate,” Rosenbush said. “So that tells us the babies’ neurological and cardiovascular system is intact and the baby is healthy."
The bottom line is, while it's not the best news you can receive, gestational diabetes is manageable. Connolly said the sacrifice to control it is so worth it once you see your happy and healthy baby.
Now after delivery, doctors said women such as Connolly with gestational diabetes, typically return to their normal blood sugar range within 24 hours. But it is important for the women to continue to monitor themselves and the baby.
That's because mom and baby are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later on.
As for Connolly, she is due on Nov. 5 and she said she can’t wait.
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