Dr. Jeff Chamberlain talks about gestational diabetes and on some ways to prevent/treat it during pregnancy and after.
Host, Gerry Barnaby – Hey, how’s it going? Barnaby here—another HelloLife Moment. We’ve been talking to Dr. Jeffrey Chamberlain in past segments about diabetes – Type I, Type II. We’ve talked about maybe how to handle diabetes if you’re diagnosed. But then, just a moment ago, off-camera, suddenly the issue of gestational diabetes came up, so I thought it appropriate to continue the conversation for the benefit of everybody that’s logged on to HelloLife.net right now. So let’s talk about that. Gestational diabetes – what’s the incidence of it – fairly common?
Health Coach, Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, MD - It’s pretty common. I see it in a number of my patients. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s maybe one out of every twenty women who are pregnant get it. But that’s just my personal experience. The stats might be a little bit off from that, but it’s pretty common.
Barnaby – Amazing. And so the body somehow flips into a diabetic mode because a woman is pregnant?
Dr. Chamberlain – Yep. Usually later in pregnancy, and week-wise between the 20th week and 30th week, usually is when it starts. And basically, their cells become more resistant to insulin. Their blood sugar levels start to go up and they develop what we call diabetes of pregnancy – or gestational diabetes.
Barnaby – And how is that diagnosed?
Dr. Chamberlain – So, when the woman is about twenty-four to twenty-eight weeks, we have them do a test – and all women who have been pregnant know this test. They basically come in and they have this sugary drink thing they have to drink, and then an hour later we check their blood sugar. If your blood sugars are high, then we do more testing to figure out if you have gestational diabetes. If they’re normal, we’re pretty safe in saying you don’t have gestational diabetes.
Barnaby – Well, boy, nobody ever wants to get the news the mothership is starting to list a little bit. Gestational diabetes. What effect does that have on the fetus?
Dr. Chamberlain – So, if the blood sugar levels are high in the mom, the baby gets too much sugar in their system and it causes them to grow a lot. You’d think that having them grow a lot would be a good thing, but too much sugar causes problems. One, the baby can be really big and so that makes the delivery that much more difficult, or maybe a higher chance of needing a C-section. The other thing is—the baby, once the baby is born, can have problems with its own blood sugars because it’s used to having super high blood sugars, and it takes awhile for the body to adjust to what’s an appropriate level for blood sugar to be.
Barnaby – Huh. And so once the baby is delivered, does that necessarily mean that the woman reverts to a normal state and the gestational diabetes is gone?
Dr. Chamberlain – Yeah – not really. Most women, their blood sugars will return to normal right after delivery. But, they’re at very high risk of developing diabetes down the road. And so it’s really important for these women to both develop a healthy lifestyle while they’re pregnant and maintain that afterwards to help prevent developing diabetes as they get older.
Barnaby – So, you know, it’s interesting because there’s two schools of thought with a lot of women I know. And that is, that once pregnant, you know you subtract alcohol, you try to eat a little bit better. But, you shouldn’t exercise, they kind of take the easy route where they say, “You know what, I’m going to gain some weight – I realize that – but that’s what I’m doing for my child.” But could it be argued that really, once you intend to get pregnant, you just change your lifestyle with the exercise, with the diet and maybe you can offset the possibility of gestational diabetes as a result?
Dr. Chamberlain – That’s exactly true. If you’re pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, it’s good to make some basic changes in your lifestyle. You don’t want to put yourself on a diet and try to lose weight. That’s not a healthy thing to do during pregnancy. But what you do want to try to do is be healthy. And that means exercising on a regular basis. Studies have shown that exercising on a regular basis during pregnancy makes labor that much easier. And so that’s a good thing to do both for your body and also makes things easier for you later on in your labor. And the other is just trying to eat right – trying to make sure that you’re eating a good amount of fruits and vegetables. Trying to avoid simple sugars and sugary drinks and things like that, that are going to pack on unhealthy extra pounds, and try to just make sure you’re eating healthy in a healthy way so the weight you do gain is a healthy weight.
Barnaby – Excellent information as always, Doctor – appreciate it. And you know what? We have covered diabetes from so many different angles here, but we have other segments you can look at. Just search it out on the search bar in the search bar there. Look for diabetes and you’ll find all sorts of conversations – not only with Dr. Chamberlain right here, but also Registered Dietician Jessica Butcher. We’ve got some segments with her as well. Right here on HelloLife.net, because it’s all about matching your commitment to a healthy lifestyle.