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How Gestational Diabetes Affects You & Your Baby

If your doctor has told you that you have gestational diabetes, you're probably worried. Try not to be. The good news is that most women with gestational diabetes have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. Getting good treatment makes all the difference.

You're also not alone. Up to 10% of women develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. In most women, the diabetes goes away after giving birth.

What Is Gestational Diabetes?

Right now, you might be confused. You didn’t have diabetes before, so why now? When you're pregnant, hormone changes can make your blood sugar level rise. That affects your baby, too, since the baby gets nutrients from your blood. Your baby stores that extra sugar as fat, which can make her grow larger than normal.

In most cases, after you give birth, the pregnancy hormones disappear, your blood sugar returns to normal, and your diabetes goes away.

How Will Gestational Diabetes Affect My Baby?

Because your baby may be larger than normal, he or she is at higher risk for some complications. Remember, these are just possible complications. Your baby might have none of them. They include:

  • Injuries during delivery because of the baby's size
  • Low blood sugar and mineral levels at birth
  • Jaundice, a treatable condition that makes the skin yellowish
  • Pre-term birth
  • Temporary breathing problems

Later in life, your baby might have higher risks of obesity and diabetes. So help your child live a healthy lifestyle -- it can lower his chances of developing obesity and diabetes.

How Will Gestational Diabetes Affect Me?

Gestational diabetes increases the chances of certain pregnancy complications. Your doctor or midwife will want to watch your health and your baby's health closely for the rest of your pregnancy.

Possible risks include:

  • Higher chance of needing a C-section
  • Miscarriage
  • High blood pressure or preeclampsia
  • Pre-term birth

After birth, you will have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle changes can lower the odds of that happening. Just as you can help your child, you can lower your own risk of developing obesity and diabetes.

Although you do have a greater chance of needing a C-section, many women with gestational diabetes have regular vaginal births. If your doctor or midwife recommends a C-section, ask these questions:

  • Why does my baby need to be delivered by C-section?
  • How accurate are birth-weight estimates? Could my baby be smaller than you think?
  • What are the risks to my baby and I if I don’t have a C-section?
  • What are the risks to us if I do have a C-section?

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