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Understanding Diabetes In Pregnancy

Diabetes mellitus (also called “diabetes”) is a condition in which too much glucose (sugar) stays in the blood instead of being used for energy. Health problems can occur when blood sugar is too high. Some women develop diabetes for the first time during pregnancy. This condition is called gestational diabetes (GDM). Women with GDM need special care both during and after pregnancy.

Several risk factors are linked to GDM, including being overweight or obese, being physically inactive, having GDM in a previous pregnancy, having a very large baby (9 pounds or more) in a previous pregnancy, having high blood pressure, having a history of heart disease, or having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). GDM also can develop in women who have no risk factors.

All pregnant women will be screened for GDM. Your obstetrician–gynecologist (ob-gyn) will ask about your medical history to determine whether you have risk factors for GDM. If you have risk factors, your blood sugar will be tested early in pregnancy. If you do not have risk factors or your testing does not show you have GDM early in pregnancy, your blood sugar will be measured between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.

If diagnosed with GDM, you will need more frequent prenatal care visits to monitor your health and your baby’s health. You will need to track your blood sugar and do things to keep it under control. Doing so will reduce the risks to both you and your baby. For many women, a healthy diet and regular exercise will control blood sugar. Some women may need medications to help reach normal blood sugar levels even with diet changes and exercise. You will meet with a nurse in office to help you learn to monitor your blood sugar levels and go over any questions you may have. 

American Diabetes Association

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Understanding High Blood Pressure In Pregnancy and After Delivery

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of blood vessels called arteries. The arteries bring blood from the heart to your lungs, where it picks up oxygen and then moves to your organs and tissues. The organs and tissues use the oxygen to power their activities. Blood vessels called veins return the blood to the heart.

High blood pressure (also called hypertension) can lead to health problems at any time in life.  During pregnancy, severe or uncontrolled high blood pressure can cause problems for you and your baby. Some women have high blood pressure before they get pregnant. Others develop it for the first time during pregnancy. A serious high blood pressure disorder called preeclampsia can also happen during pregnancy or soon after childbirth.

All women with gestational hypertension are monitored often (usually weekly) for signs of preeclampsia and to make sure that their blood pressure does not go too high.

Preeclampsia can develop quietly without you being aware of it. Symptoms can include swelling of face or hands, headache that will not go away, seeing spots or changes in eyesight, pain in the upper abdomen or shoulder, nausea and vomiting (in the second half of pregnancy), sudden weight gain, or difficulty breathing. If you have any of these symptoms, especially if they develop in the second half of pregnancy, call your ob-gyn right away.

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American Heart Association

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