Gestational Diabetes – Every Pregnant Woman’s Nightmare
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy. Like other forms of diabetes, gestational diabetes affects the way your body uses glucose. High glucose level occurs when your body is not able to make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy. This could be due to the changing hormones and weight gain. This means your body is unable to use the energy from the food that you eat.
Most women do not experience any signs or symptoms of gestational diabetes. When they do occur, signs and symptoms include excessive thirst and increased urination.
Are You Prone To Developing Gestational Diabetes?
These factors put you at slightly higher risk of developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy:
- Being overweight prior to pregnancy
- Detected glucose in your urine
- Impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose
- Family history of diabetes
- Previously given birth to a baby over 4kg (9 pounds)
- Previously given birth to a stillborn baby
- Experienced gestational diabetes during previous pregnancy
Potential Risk Of Gestational Diabetes
Uncontrolled gestational diabetes can effect the developing baby. Some potential risks include:
- The baby’s body is larger than normal, a condition known as macrosomia. A large baby may need to be delivered through a cesarean section instead of naturally through the vagina.
- The baby experiences a sharp drop in blood glucose level called hypoglycemia. Start to breastfeed right away and this can help to get more glucose to the baby. The baby may also need to get glucose through a tube into his blood.
- The baby may experience respiratory distress syndrome and have trouble breathing.
How To Detect Gestational Diabetes?
Screening for gestational diabetes is usually performed between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. However, if you are at a higher risk of gestational diabetes, you should have your blood glucose checked as early as possible during your pregnancy.
There are two manners of testing:
- One Step Approach. After fasting for four to eight hours, blood glucose is then measured. The process will be repeated again two hours after consuming a sugar drink. This test is called oral glucose tolerance test.
- Two Steps Approach. Blood glucose is measured one hour after drinking a sugar drink. If the blood glucose level is high after one hour, there is a possibility of having gestational diabetes. An oral glucose tolerance test will be performed to assess presence of gestational diabetes.
How Is Gestational Diabetes Treated?
Here are some general ways to stay healthy with gestational diabetes:
- Know your blood glucose level and keep it under control. By testing how much glucose is in your blood, you are in better control of keeping diabetes under check. For regular monitoring of blood glucose level, you may need to test your blood glucose several times a day.
- Eat a healthy diet. More often than not, controlling carbohydrates intake is an important part of a healthy diet for women with gestational diabetes.
- Perform regular and moderate physical activity. Exercise can help control blood glucose levels. Pick an exercise that best suits you.
- Keep to a healthy weight. The amount of weight gain that is healthy for you very much depends on how much you weighed prior to pregnancy. It is important to track both your overall weight as well as your weekly rate of weight gain.
- Insulin. Some women with gestational diabetes may even need to take insulin to help manage their diabetes. The extra insulin can help lower their blood sugar level.
What Happens After Delivery?
For most women with gestational diabetes, their blood glucose levels usually go back to normal soon after the baby is delivered. Towards the sixth week after delivery, you should have your blood glucose checked, as it also helps to assess your rick of getting diabetes in the future.
If you wish to get pregnant again, have a blood glucose test done up to three months prior to pregnancy to make sure that your blood glucose level is normal.
Women who have had gestational diabetes and children whose mothers had gestational diabetes are at a higher lifetime risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes.