I think we can all agree that pregnancy can be a wondrous thing. Although I can sympathize but not relate, there’s a certain magic behind knowing that you have a little version of yourself on the way; buying baby clothes, setting up a nursery and trying to explain to your 5-year old why he won’t be the sole child in the house are all challenges that can be as much fun as they can be stressful.
Pregnancy carries its own batch of potential complications, and the light knows that my family has experienced a good number of them through the births of both my sons. Having either of my children contract Type-1 Diabetes has always been a concern of mine, given that I have Type-1 myself. But ladies, you have a Diabetic concern all your own to worry about while carrying around your little bambino for nine months. I’m talking Gestational Diabetes…
I’ve covered the different types of Diabetes in previous posts, but this one is more common than most people think. Gestational Diabetes, or Maternal Diabetes as it is sometimes referred to, is a condition in which the body does not allow insulin to be processed properly during pregnancy. According to a post by WebMD, “During pregnancy, your placenta makes hormones that cause glucose to build up in your blood. Usually, your pancreas can send out enough insulin to handle it. But if your body can’t make enough insulin like it should, your blood sugars rise, and you get Gestational Diabetes.” (https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/gestational-diabetes)
As though there isn’t enough to worry about during pregnancy! One of the big issues with Gestational Diabetes is the fact that the symptoms often aren’t noticed or are attributed to the pregnancy and ignored. This can obviously be a big problem and can pose a risk for mom and baby.
So how common is it? Well, the best I could find was on the Government of Canada website, Canada.ca, which provided that approximately 54.5% of women in 1,000 pregnancies developed Gestational Diabetes between 2004 to 2011. This is an incomplete number, since the Province of Quebec does not contribute to the pertinent database required for a total National average. That being said, the percentages vary from Province to Province and Territory. This is likely due to differences in Provincial Health Care, environment and available resources. (https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/healthy-living/maternal-diabetes-canada.html)
Depending on the circumstances, Gestational Diabetes has two sub-types: one where it can be treated with diet and exercise and the second, which will require insulin injections or medications. Screening for this condition is usually done by your doctor once you’ve reached certain points n your pregnancy, but don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about it. Even if it isn’t time to test for it, they should be able to put your mind at ease.
Prevention involves the same golden toolbox that just about everything else does. Exercise (yes, even during your pregnancy), eat a healthy diet and make certain that you’re getting the pre-natal care you require. Exercise should be moderate at most and your doctor will be able to recommend/refer you accordingly. Ultimately, it’s just one more way that Diabetes affects the lives of many people and is one more hiccup in an otherwise happy experience. When the time comes to tell your child, “Do you know what I had to go through to have you?” hopefully Gestational Diabetes isn’t on the list! ☯