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Gestational Diabetes 101: What Moms-to-be Need to Know

Gestational Diabetes 101: What Moms-to-be Need to Know

November 18, 2021

A woman’s pregnancy journey is filled with countless unexpected surprises. Unfortunately, not all of them are welcome. Learning you have gestational diabetes—a rise in blood sugar levels that occurs only during pregnancy—is one surprise that fills many moms with concerns for their own health and the health of their baby.

The good news: You can get through it without causing harm to you or your newborn. And you can have a whole team of experts by your side to help you at every step. Atlantic Maternal Fetal Medicine offers a Diabetes and Pregnancy Program designed specifically to support moms dealing with the ups and downs of gestational diabetes.

“We develop very close relationships with our patents,” says Kay Anderson, RN, a certified diabetes care and education specialist and practice clinical supervisor of the program. “Patients are often quite concerned when they call us. But we let them know it’s only a speedbump. We can help them get back on track and make sure they have a happy, healthy baby.”

How is gestational diabetes diagnosed?

Gestational diabetes is determined with a blood sugar test. It most often occurs between weeks 26 and 28 of pregnancy. If your maternal fetal medicine specialist, OB/GYN provider or midwife suspects gestational diabetes, they may refer you into the Diabetes and Pregnancy Program. “We work with all area OB/GYNs and midwifery practices,” Anderson says.

What are the health risks of gestational diabetes?

The biggest risks of high blood sugar during pregnancy are those to the unborn baby. Uncontrolled gestational diabetes increases the risk for stillbirth and fetal macrosomia, a condition where the infant can grow too large to fit through the birth canal. Gestational diabetes also increases the baby’s risk for feeding, breathing, body temperature or blood sugar problems after birth, and it boosts a mom’s risk of preeclampsia or developing diabetes later in life.

The key to limiting the potential effects of gestational diabetes is tight blood sugar control. Providers aim to keep fasting blood sugar levels below 95 mg/dl, and to keep blood sugar below 120 mg/dl two hours after a meal. Doing so means adjusting your diet and checking your blood sugar regularly.

How does the Diabetes and Pregnancy Program help moms and babies?

When moms turn to the Diabetes and Pregnancy Program, they first meet with a registered dietitian who will review their diet and make recommendations on how to keep their blood sugar in check. That doesn’t mean moms have to starve themselves. It also doesn’t mean they can’t eat their favorite food.

“If a mom says her family looks forward to pizza night, we find ways to integrate that into their diabetes-friendly diet,” Anderson says. “For example, it might be OK to have one slice and a salad, and then let the family eat the rest of the pizza. Tweaks like that allow moms to keep their diabetes in control while still enjoying family traditions built around food.”

Moms in the program will also regularly meet with one of our certified diabetes care and education specialists. They teach moms how to check their blood sugar and, when required, how to inject insulin, the medication most often prescribed to treat gestational diabetes. Most moms will meet with a care and education specialist every week throughout their pregnancy to review blood sugar levels. They also will receive ultrasounds to check on the baby’s health. “Our dedicated team will go to any length to help our moms,” Anderson says.

The program also offers patients the use of a free app called Glooko®. It allows moms with any Bluetooth-enabled blood sugar meter to upload their blood sugar logs securely to their patient chart, which keeps the Diabetes and Pregnancy Program team informed and allows them to adjust a mom’s regimen as needed.

The best news of all: In most cases, gestational diabetes goes away once mom gives birth.

With locations in Rockaway, Newton, Pompton Plains, Summit and Morristown, the Diabetes and Pregnancy Program offers expert care that’s close to many New Jersey communities. The program accommodates both in-person and virtual visits.

Learn more about Atlantic Maternal Fetal Medicine >