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Pregnancy and Reproductive Health

Gestational Diabetes and Postpartum Care


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People who have high blood sugar during pregnancy, called Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM), are at risk for developing other complications during their pregnancy. Pregnant individuals with GDM are more likely to experience pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy), require a cesarean section for delivery, and can have up to a 50% increase in the lifetime risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Some pregnant people who may be at greater risk of developing GDM include people who are overweight, had GDM during a previous pregnancy, have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or are physically inactive. Babies born to individuals with GDM are more likely to be born prematurely, suffer fetal injury, and are at increased risk for a variety of long-term medical complications. When GDM is well-managed, the risks to the parent and child are closer to those of pregnant individuals without diabetes. 

Additionally, people of Hispanic, Native American, Asian American, Pacific Islander, and African American descent may be at greater risk of developing GDM.

After delivery, and during the postpartum period following a pregnancy with GDM, blood sugar levels return to normal in the weeks after delivery. There is a high chance that a person who had gestational diabetes with their previous pregnancy will also have GDM with their next pregnancy. It is important a person with GDM see their health care provider early in the postpartum period and have their blood sugar tested annually by their health care provider.

The goal of treatment for all types of diabetes is to keep blood sugar as close to normal as possible. Many people with GDM can control their blood sugar with a meal plan and exercise routine. A meal plan should be based on the person's schedule, food preferences, cultural choices, and blood sugar levels. Milk, breads, fruits, and vegetables are all needed for good nutrition, but eating too much at one time can raise blood sugar levels. Many people with GDM can control their blood sugar levels by changing some of the foods they eat, eating small and more frequent meals throughout the day, limiting carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, or rice, and adding physical activity to their daily routine.

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