Gestational diabetes is a condition that affects the pregnant women. It is diabetes that is diagnosed for the first time during gestation or pregnancy. Gestational diabetes affects how your cells use glucose (sugar).
If left untreated, the high blood sugar levels can affect both mother and baby. In some cases, gestational diabetes can be controlled by eating healthy food, exercising regularly, and staying active. This can help mother and baby to remain healthy and ensures a normal delivery.
There are two types of gestational diabetes – class A1 and class A2. Women suffering from class A1 can control the diabetes by eating healthy food and staying fit. On the other hand, women with class A2 require medications.
In most cases, gestational diabetes usually goes away after delivery. But there are chances of it affecting your baby’s health. If you develop gestational diabetes once, you are at risk of developing type II diabetes later in life.
What are the symptoms of gestational diabetes?
In most cases, women don’t show any noticeable symptoms or signs. Most women find out they have gestational diabetes during their routine screening.
Some of the common signs you may notice include:
● Frequent urination
● Frequent thirst
● Increased appetite
How does one develop gestational diabetes?
When you eat, special cells in the pancreas releases a hormone called insulin. It helps move glucose – a type of sugar – from your blood to the body’s cells. These cells use glucose for energy.
When you get pregnant, the placenta secretes hormones that cause a build-up of glucose in the blood. The pancreas can release insulin and control the build-up of glucose. But if your body can’t produce enough insulin or use it the way it should, the blood sugar levels rise, causing gestational diabetes.
What are the risk factors associated with gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes can happen to any pregnant woman. However, some are more prone to it than others. Some of the risk factors include:
● Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
● Lack of physical activity
● Family history of diabetes
● High blood pressure
● Previous delivery of a baby with a weight of more than 4.1 kg (9 pounds)
● Non-white women – women who are of the Hispanic descent, American Indian, Pacific Islander, Asian American, or black are at higher risk
What complications can arise if gestational diabetes is left untreated?
If not controlled or treated, gestational diabetes can cause several problems for you and your baby. It can also increase the likelihood of delivering the baby with a C-section.
Complications that can affect you:
Gestational diabetes increases the risk of high blood pressure, which can cause preeclampsia. It is a complication that arises during pregnancy and can be life-threatening.
● Chances of surgical delivery
Women with gestational diabetes are more likely to have a C-section delivery.
● Diabetes in the future
If you develop gestational diabetes during one pregnancy, you are more likely to develop it again in a future pregnancy. Your chances of developing type II diabetes in the future also increase with gestational diabetes.
Complications that can affect the baby:
If left untreated, gestational diabetes can result in your baby’s death either before or soon after delivery.
● Preterm birth
High blood sugar can cause early labor or delivery. This can cause the baby to be born prematurely in some cases.
● Difficulty breathing
Babies born earlier than their gestational period may develop respiratory distress syndrome, which causes difficulty in breathing.
Infants may also have high birth weight, shoulder dystocia that causes their shoulders to get stuck in the birth canal during labour and they may also be at a greater risk of developing diabetes later in life.
Can gestational diabetes be prevented?
Since there is no guarantee that gestational diabetes can be prevented, it’s better to keep yourself healthy and fit during pregnancy. Some of the preventive measures you can take include:
● Eating healthy food
Healthy food items that contain more fiber and fewer calories and fat are recommended during pregnancy. Watch portion sizes and focus more on eating fruits and vegetables.
● Staying fit
Regular exercise before and during pregnancy can reduce your chances of developing gestational diabetes.
● Avoid gaining excess weight during pregnancy
Gaining some weight during pregnancy is considered healthy and normal. Gaining excess weight too quickly can increase your risk of developing gestational diabetes.
How is gestational diabetes diagnosed?
Gestational diabetes usually develops in the second half of the pregnancy, i.e., between 24 and 28 weeks. Your doctor will run a few tests for the diagnosis.
● Initial glucose test tolerance
Your doctor will give you a sugary glucose drink. A blood test will be conducted almost an hour later to check your blood sugar level. Blood sugar below 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L) is considered normal.
If your blood sugar level is higher than this, you will need another GTT test to determine the medical condition.
● Follow-up glucose test tolerance
This is similar to the initial GTT test, but your blood sugar level will be checked every hour for 3 hours. If two readings are higher than normal, the diagnosis will confirm gestational diabetes.
Is there a treatment for gestational diabetes?
Upon diagnosis, your doctor will come up with a treatment plan for you.
● Blood sugar monitoring
Your doctor will ask you to check your blood sugar level at least four or five times a day – in the morning and after meals. This will be to ensure you don’t get diabetic when pregnancy.
If a healthy diet and regular exercise don’t help, your doctor will give you insulin injections to lower your blood sugar level. You may also get oral tablets to bring down your blood sugar level.
In about 10-20% of gestational diabetes cases, medication is needed to control blood sugar levels.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What are the warning signs of gestational diabetes?
If you develop gestational diabetes, you may experience:
● Frequent urge to urinate
● Extremely dry mouth
● Extreme nausea
● Blurred vision
● Unusual cravings for sweet food
● Increased appetite
2. Do mothers with gestational diabetes deliver early?
Gestational diabetes raises the chances of preeclampsia and high blood pressure. These signs are more likely to lead you to deliver your baby early.
In many cases, women with gestational diabetes carry their baby to full term.
3. Is gestational diabetes caused by diet?
Gestational diabetes is not caused by the diet. However, it may increase your chances of developing high blood sugar if you don’t eat healthy food and exercise regularly. Obesity is one of the factors that may increase your risk of developing gestational diabetes.
4. How can I lower my gestational diabetes naturally?
Gestational diabetes is a condition where your blood sugar level increases during pregnancy. If you maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly, you can control your gestational diabetes.
Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment