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Navigating Gestational Diabetes: How Your Doula Can Support You

Updated: 5 days ago


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Many maternal health conditions can arise during pregnancy. We want our mothers to prepare expecting mothers and inform them about the journey into motherhood and how doulas can reduce risk or manage certain maternal health conditions.


What is Gestational Diabetes?

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (2017), gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. Diabetes means your blood sugar is too high. Too much sugar in your blood harms a mother or the baby (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 2017). Furthermore, it may also increase the chances of a mother experiencing a miscarriage or stillbirth (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 2017; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 2024).




What are the Statistics?

Annually, gestational diabetes affects 2% to 10% of pregnancies in the United States, and there is an estimated 50% of women who develop gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 2024).


(Olah. J, 2023)

How Does This Affect My Baby?

Problems that babies may experience are the following:

  • being born too early

  • weighing too much, which can make delivery difficult and injure your baby

  • having low blood glucose (sugar), also called hypoglycemia, right after birth

  • having breathing problems

(National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 2017).


(Czikk & Latour, 2021)


How Does This Affect Me?

Mothers may develop preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that usually starts after 20 weeks (Mayo Clinic, 2023). It involves high blood pressure and can cause kidney damage, as shown by high protein levels in the urine (Mayo Clinic, 2023). If not treated, preeclampsia can lead to serious, sometimes deadly, problems for both the mother and baby (Mayo Clinic, 2023).


How Can My Doula Help?

Choosing a knowledgeable doula who understands and has experience or specializes in maternal health conditions is essential.

A doula who is knowledgeable about gestational diabetes may help with reducing the risk or managing GD. It is important always to consult your obstetrician and follow their treatment plan with you and your baby. The doula may provide general information and make suggestions for your diet and lifestyle (International Doula Institute, 2021). A doula may collaborate with a dietician to ensure your healthy intake of nutrients and low-sugar foods (International Doula Institute, 2021).


Ask your doctor or consult with your doula about any concerns or questions about gestational diabetes.



References


Czikk, M. J., & Latour, O. (2021). [Image description, e.g., Illustration of gestational diabetes symptoms]. In Diabetes & Metabolism, 47(6). Elsevier. Retrieved July 10, 2024, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0753332221009677


Mayo Clinic. (2023, July 27). Preeclampsia. Retrieved July 10, 2024, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/preeclampsia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355745


National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2017, May). What is gestational diabetes? Definition & facts. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved July 10, 2024, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes/gestational/definition-facts


National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2024, January). Diabetes statistics. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved July 10, 2024, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/diabetes-statistics#:~:text=Gestational%20Diabetes%20Facts%20and%20Statistics,-Gestational%20diabetes%20is&text=Every%20year%2C%202%25%20to%2010,to%20develop%20type%202%20diabetes.


Olah, J. (2023, May 19). [Image showing differences between gestational diabetes and diabetes]. Verywell Health. Retrieved July 10, 2024, from https://www.verywellhealth.com/gestational-diabetes-vs-diabetes-6281196


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