Whether you’re pregnant and don’t have a sweet tooth, or if you find your hand in the cookie jar more often than not, you should probably learn about gestational diabetes. Why? Nearly every pregnant woman is at risk of developing gestational diabetes…and it has nothing to do with the amount of sweets that you consume. Here’s what you should know.
Gestational diabetes occurs when your body cannot produce and properly use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy. But…you probably already know that. What most people don’t know is that all women develop some level of insulin resistance during the last stages of pregnancy. That said, less than 10% of women develop this type of diabetes. Hispanic, African-American and Asian-American women are among the most at risk.
Though gestational diabetes is an autoimmune disease, there are simple ways that you can try to avoid having it. In fact, you’re most likely already doing what you need to do! Eat well, keep your carbs in check and exercise on a regular basis. You’ll likely be tested for it when you’re between 24-28 weeks pregnant (even if you don’t think you’re at risk). This is when most women develop it.
So what do you do if you have developed it? Don’t panic just yet. And don’t swear off Ben & Jerry’s forever, either. First off, just because you’ve developed gestational diabetes doesn’t mean your baby will. For the sweet toothers in the house, know that you can still eat small amounts of sweet things. Try to avoid foods with artificial sweeteners, though, as these may actually cause more problems for you. Spoiler alert: sometimes these sweeteners have a laxative effect. Know that you’ll have to monitor your blood sugar on a daily basis and that you may even need regular insulin injections.
The good news is that most mothers who develop gestational diabetes will find that it goes away after birth. In some cases, mothers will develop type 2 diabetes later on. That’s why it’s necessary for doctors to continue to monitor anyone with gestational diabetes even years after they’ve had it.