What is Gestational Diabetes Mellitus? How is it Treated?
Most women will be evaluated for diabetes at some point during their pregnancy. There are different types of diabetes, some of course more severe and long lasting than others. This post is specifically about gestational diabetes mellitus, or GDM, the lowest risk type of diabetes.
Your baby (the fetus) needs glucose. It is an important fuel and resource for fetal development, especially the fetal brain. Knowing this, your pregnancy, in particular the placenta, which is the source of all nutrients and oxygen for your baby, is specially designed to always have an ample supply of glucose available for your baby. The placenta produces hormones that guarantee your blood sugar will always be high enough to pass a sufficient amount across to the fetus.
But that poses a challenge to the mother's (maternal) side of the maternal-fetal pairing. In spite of fetal needs, the extra blood glucose (or sugar) may be a bit too high for the mother to contend with. The reasons for this are complex, we'll talk about this physiology another time.
Suffice to say that if the mother's blood glucose is too high, that can pose a threat to both her and her baby. This is why it is so important to treat GDM aggressively and correctly.
This is where Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) comes in. We treat all manners of high-risk patients, including diabetes. Taking care of patients with GDM is very straightforward for both the patient and our team.
Diet management is always the foundation of treatment for any patient with diabetes, including GDM. Though a "diabetic diet" sounds awful, it really isn't. The mother, and her family if we're really going to improve our community's health, can still eat most of the foods they enjoy. It is more about quantity and distribution than type. We'll explain and teach this carefully when you see us. It is true that there are certain "poisons" that will have to go, so prepare to learn what you probably already know, that a big soda three times a day is a no go.
Occasionally, but not often, patients with GDM will need medicine. This is almost always insulin, as advised by The American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology (ACOG).
Superb control of all diabetes is key for maternal and fetal health. For the baby, high blood sugars (hyperglycemia) are dangerous during pregnancy and after birth. The consequence of hyperglycemia can cause your baby to require more intensive neonatal care, rather than the expected normal newborn experience with his or her family.
No matter the maternal or fetal problem, our goal is always to keep you and your family together. We're good at this. Don't stress, you will be too if you develop GDM. We've got this.