When you're expecting, chances are you hope to deliver a healthy, happy baby more than anything. But even lightly researching the many health conditions that may crop up during pregnancy is enough to spook even the strongest heart. To make matters worse, there are still plenty of misconceptions about common pregnancy conditions that linger online. For instance, there are myths about gestational diabetes that you may unknowingly believe. Although it may sound daunting, there's no reason to make the condition out to be something it isn't.
That said, monitoring your health is crucial during pregnancy. And even if you've never had to think twice about blood sugar, gestational diabetes is now a possibility. Fortunately, even if you are diagnosed with the condition (and plenty of women are), you can work with your doctor to find the best way to manage your health. That may involve some chances to your diet and exercise regime, or even medication. Whatever the case, it helps to remember that you're not alone, the condition is manageable for most women, and it will end once you've given birth. Read on to learn how gestational diabetes is monitored, diagnosed, and treated, as well as some of the reasons it may develop.
Myth #1: It's A Rare Condition
If you're diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you are far from alone. According to Baby Center, approximately 5 to 10 percent of all pregnant women develop gestational diabetes. Although the initial diagnosis may be a bit scary, it is a common condition that many pregnant women get through safely.
Myth #2: You Can Control GD With Diet & Exercise
If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, then you may feel like it's your duty to control the condition completely with your own behavior. And sure, diet and exercise can play a big part in your ability to manage the condition, as explained by Baby Center. But you may still need medication to keep your blood sugar in check. This is OK too: you're still meeting the end goal of a safe and healthy pregnancy.
Mythg #3: You Have To Wait To Get Tested
Sure, most women get tested for gestational diabetes around weeks 24 to 28 of their pregnancy, according to WebMD. But women who are concerned about the condition earlier — for instance, those with a family history of diabetes — can have their risk of developing gestational diabetes evaluated much earlier, as explained by the Mayo Clinic. It may be something to discuss with your doctor even before you conceive.
Myth #4: Having GD Means You're Unhealthy
Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes does not necessarily mean that you're super unhealthy. In fact, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the risk factors for gestational diabetes include family history of diabetes, being older than 25, and even certain ethnic backgrounds. Anyone can develop the condition. Although your weight may also be a factor, as further noted by the USNLM, there are plenty of other risk factors that are simply beyond your control.
Myth #5: GD Ends When You Deliver
The good news: gestational diabetes does indeed stop with the birth of your child, and for most women their blood sugar goes back to normal soon following delivery, as noted in the Mayo Clinic. However, if you've had gestational diabetes, then you may have an elevated risk for type 2 diabetes, as further noted by the Mayo Clinic. Fortunately, you can work with your doctor to help reduce your risk factors.
Myth #6: There Will Be Clear Symptoms
Before you go down the self-diagnosis rabbit hole, remember that for many women there are no symptoms of gestational diabetes, and it has to be tested and diagnosed by a doctor, as explained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (USNLM). As further noted by the USNLM, the possible symptoms may include increased urination, nausea, and fatigue. But seriously: don't most pregnant women have those symptoms anyway? Testing is the only way to be really sure about the condition.
Myth #7: It Has To Be Scary
Sure, everyone hopes for a pregnancy that's free from any kind of complication. But even if you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you don't have to let the condition stress you out too much. Fully discussing your condition with your doctor, as well as doing a bit of research into gestational diabetes, may help put your mind at rest.
Myth #8: Your Baby Will Definitely Be Huge
Well, it is possible. Macrosomia, or fetal growth beyond a specific weight, may be more common for pregnant women with diabetes, as explained by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). However, the risk factors are higher (perhaps as high as 20 percent) for women whose gestational diabetes is undiagnosed and untreated, as also noted by the AAFP. So although getting a positive diagnosis for gestational diabetes may be scary, knowing you have the condition can help you head off potential complications such as macrosomia.
Myth #9: It Will Cause Birth Defects
You may associate diabetes with an increased risk of birth defects. Although mothers who have diabetes prior to getting pregnant may experience this risk, gestational diabetes tends to occur later in pregnancy, after the baby has formed, according to the American Diabetes Association. Therefore, it does not appear to cause the birth defects sometimes associated with diabetic mothers.
Myth #10: Developing Diabetes Is Inevitable
The bad news: having gestational diabetes puts you at an increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes later in life, according to the Mayo Clinic. The good news: by making lifestyle changes, you may help reduce your risk of getting diabetes later on, as further explained by the Mayo Clinic. Eating healthy foods and exercising regularly may help manage your risk.
Myth #11: It's Your Fault
Hey, moms-to-be get enough guilt dumped on them about how every action may affect their developing baby. Chances are, you're doing everything you can to make sure your baby growing up in a healthy manner. So even if your are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, remember that you can (and likely will) still give birth to a happy, healthy baby.