“Between 24 and 28 weeks of your pregnancy you’ll be tested for gestational diabetes, which is a high blood sugar condition that a woman might develop during pregnancy,” says Dr. Tina Ramsey, an OB/GYN physician with Women’s Health Specialists. “Although, if you’re considered high risk for the condition you may be tested at one of your first appointments.” Factors that may put you at higher risk for gestational diabetes include:
- Family history
- Increased BMI
- Previous gestational diabetes
- Chronic hypertension
The glucose challenge test (GCT) you’re given consists of having you drink 50 grams of glucose in order to standardize your sugar level. An hour later your blood will be drawn to check your blood glucose level and see how well your body has processed the sugar. If your level falls outside of the normal parameters, you’ll be asked to complete a three hour glucose tolerance test, which is a longer and more conclusive test for the condition. If this test comes back positive, you’ll be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
After you’ve been diagnosed you’ll be shown how to test your blood sugars, which you’ll have to do four times each day through the duration of your pregnancy. Oftentimes women will work with a nutritionist to devise a diet plan that will help manage their blood sugars. However, if that isn’t working you may have to use insulin or an oral medication to keep your levels in a healthy range.
“When a patient has gestational diabetes, we need to be aware of it and try to manage it to avoid various risks to the mother and baby,” commented Dr. Ramsey. “Those risks can include:
- Preterm labor and the complications that can accompany that
- Too much fluid around the baby
- Increased chance of preeclampsia
- Macrosomia, which is a newborn that is larger than average, and the delivery complications that can present.
If women are diligent about their diet, gestational diabetes can usually be managed by that alone. We also see that taking a 10 – 15 minute walk after meals seems to help blood sugar levels as well,” notes Dr. Ramsey.
“Of course, there are ways to be proactive to avoid gestational diabetes if you’re trying to conceive,” commented Dr. Ramsey. “Maintaining optimal body weight by incorporating regular exercise and a healthy diet into your lifestyle is key. And if you do have a family history of diabetes, a high protein and low carb diet is recommended.”
The physicians at Women’s Health Specialists recommend scheduling an appointment with your OB/GYN doctor in the Fox Valley before trying to conceive. “It’s a great opportunity to discover any underlying health issues or family history of health problems that may present complications in conceiving or maintaining a healthy pregnancy,” says Dr. Ramsey. “Becoming a parent is such a special milestone, and it’s our goal for that journey to be a successful and positive experience.”
Schedule an appointment with Dr. Ramsey to discuss your family planning goals by calling 920-749-4000.