Q. I had gestational diabetes while I was pregnant and delivered my baby on October 28th, 2003. The diabetes has not gone away. Will my glucose levels remain stable as long as I breast feed my baby? How long will it take to be normal?
-Anonymous, New Jersey
A. Gestational diabetes usually develops between 24 and 28 weeks into pregnancy and generally disappears immediately following childbirth. In a small percentage of women, the diabetes remains and develops into a permanent type 2 diabetes.
Breast feeding and weight loss can help reduce your blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that breast feeding has a beneficial effect on glucose and lipid metabolism in women with gestational diabetes. Other studies have shown that women with type 2 diabetes who return to an "ideal" weight for their stature after giving birth have lower blood sugar levels.
You should consult your doctor about the best possible plan for controlling your diabetes. You may need insulin for treatment, or maybe just a change in diet.
Q. I am 19 weeks pregnant. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 14 weeks. Sometimes I do not follow the guidelines like I should. What harm am I doing by not watching my blood sugar extra carefully?
A. Gestational diabetes left untreated could result in health risks for the baby. When a pregnant woman has gestational diabetes, extra blood glucose goes through the placenta, giving the baby high blood glucose. Since the baby gets more energy than it needs to grow and develop, the extra energy is stored as fat. This can lead to macrosomia (a.k.a. fat baby), which leads to other health risks, such as trouble being born, breathing problems, and/or childhood obesity and type-2 diabetes later in life.
Following your doctor's guidelines for treatment of gestational diabetes will give you and your baby the best chance for healthy development and delivery.