What is Gestational Diabetes?

All pregnancies come with some level of risk. One of those risks is gestational diabetes, which affects both the surrogate and the baby throughout the pregnancy. Roughly 2-10% of pregnancies in the United States are affected by gestational diabetes every year. 

It’s important to understand this condition fully before embarking on a surrogacy journey because while it is uncommon, it is not unlikely.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that develops due to hormone changes in pregnancy. This form is similar to others in that it affects the blood glucose levels of the carrier and can result in high blood sugar. In most cases, gestational diabetes goes away after the carrier gives birth and her hormones return to their previous levels.

However, there is a significant risk to the baby and the carrier due to this issue. High blood pressure and diabetes while in vitro can put the baby at risk of type II diabetes later in life. There is also a risk that the child is delivered early.

While persons with type I or type II diabetes are disqualified from becoming a surrogate due to additional health risks to carrier and child, those with a history of gestational diabetes are not. Their past condition does come up during the screening, and it is closely monitored throughout the pregnancy.

How Will Gestational Diabetes Affect a Surrogate?

Any pregnant woman is subject to the same conditions when they are affected by gestational diabetes. Some conditions that a carrier could experience are:

  • Future Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Need for a C-section or surgical birth

While none of these symptoms are guaranteed to happen to a surrogate with gestational diabetes, it is likely that they will experience one or more.

How Will Gestational Diabetes Affect the Baby?

As with any changes to the body during pregnancy, gestational diabetes can affect the child as it is gestating. Blood sugar levels directly affect the child in some of these ways:

  • High birth weight (over 9lbs.)
  • Early Birth
  • Breathing Problems (respiratory Distress Syndrome)
  • Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia)
  • Risk of developing type II diabetes.

Again, these results are not a guarantee when a surrogate is diagnosed with gestational diabetes. It is possible that the child will be born without complication, but Intended Parents should be prepared for any of these conditions.

How Do You Have a Healthy Pregnancy With Gestational Diabetes?

Anyone with diabetes knows that the condition can be managed through careful monitoring and diet changes to normalize blood sugar levels. Surrogates with gestational diabetes should eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise. Likewise, they should monitor their blood glucose levels regularly to ensure the safety of themselves and the child.

An appropriate diet to manage gestational diabetes will have a lot of high-fiber, low-fat foods, fruits and vegetables, and sensible portion sizes. There are many diabetes-friendly recipes for common foods available online and through blogs. 

Surrogates may also have to occasionally test their ketone levels through urine tests to ensure that their fat levels are normalized. 

There are some cases where exercise and diet change may not be enough to manage blood sugar levels, and insulin therapy may be implemented.

For the gestational carrier, a focus on foot care is in order. Diabetes has a history of impacting the nerves in a subject’s feet, and exposure to it during pregnancy is no difference. Neglecting key areas of the body during gestational diabetes can result in long-term, nerve damage.

What Should I Do If Gestational Diabetes Is Affecting My Pregnancy?

Whether you are an Intended Parent or a surrogate, the best way to respond to gestational diabetes is with calm, deliberate action. When a diagnosis is set, make sure that you and the other party come together to work out a game plan to manage the surrogate’s condition.

This may require some additional spend from the Intended Parents for healthy foods and organic produce, and will require special attention to their own health by the surrogate.

Any advice from the doctor should be taken into account and used as best as possible to keep everyone healthy.

Final Notes

While gestational diabetes is a serious condition that affects up to 10% of pregnancies, it is not something to panic about. There are many people in the world that live regular lives with diabetes, and the process of managing diabetes is well regulated in the medical community. 

There may be some complications with the birth of the child or the health of the surrogate, but with proper management and care everything should go smoothly. When going through a surrogacy process, you are already seeing more doctors than normal and keeping close tabs on hormone levels, this is just one extra thing to keep an eye on.

A surrogate should continue to get blood glucose level tests up to six weeks post pregnancy to make sure that their levels are returning to normal.

If you have questions about gestational diabetes, please reach out to us here.

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