By Karoline Gore, guest blogger
Gestational diabetes—a type of diabetes that’s diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy—affects up to 10% of pregnancies in the United States every year, according to data from the CDC. It’s thought to be caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy that results in insulin resistance. Women with a history of gestational diabetes are usually able to be surrogates. This is discussed during surrogacy screening with our Boston, NYC, and San Francisco teams.
However, women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are usually disqualified as potential surrogates due to the additional health risks posed to both the mother and child.
Women diagnosed with gestational diabetes may experience a number of complications. In particular, they face an increased risk of early labor and delivery before the due date. The baby may also be larger than normal (over nine pounds), which increases the risk of injuries during childbirth. Babies whose mothers are diagnosed with gestational diabetes can also have difficulty breathing and/or low blood sugar levels shortly after birth. Additionally, they may be more likely to develop obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life. Gestational diabetes increases the risk of having high blood pressure, needing a C-section, and developing gestational diabetes or type 2 diabetes in the future.
Managing the condition
Treating gestational diabetes involves normalizing blood sugar levels, which also minimizes associated problems and complications. It’s important to eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise. You’ll have to test your blood sugar level at specific times throughout the day to make sure it is within an acceptable range. Occasionally, you’ll need to test your urine for ketones (compounds produced when your body metabolizes fat); your ketone levels increase when the body can’t use glucose for energy. Insulin therapy is required if diet and exercise alone can’t control blood sugar levels. Additionally, taking care of your feet is important: gestational diabetes can cause neuropathy (nerve damage) in this area. Regularly washing and moisturizing your feet and wearing diabetic socks can improve hygiene and circulation, and prevent foot pain.
Ensuring a healthy pregnancy
Staying healthy during pregnancy can decrease a surrogate mother’s chances of developing gestational diabetes. You can do this by eating a healthy diet: choose high-fiber, low-fat foods, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and keep portion sizes sensible. Get regular exercise—at least 30 minutes of moderate activity daily. If you’re planning to be a surrogate, make sure you’re at a healthy weight before becoming pregnant. During pregnancy, don’t gain more weight than recommended by your doctor. If you’ve had gestational diabetes before, staying healthy during pregnancy can minimize your chances of developing it again, or developing type 2 diabetes in the future.
Although it’s a complication that needs attention, expectant surrogates can still have healthy pregnancies with gestational diabetes. Maintaining a healthy weight, healthy eating habits, exercising regularly, and taking medication if needed can help keep the condition under control.
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a surrogate through Circle Surrogacy in Massachusetts, California, or New York, you can read about the process on our Surrogate page and can begin the process of becoming a surrogate by filling out our application!