Gestational diabetes (GD) can happen to any pregnant woman. It is a serious complication that requires a prompt management plan to ensure its effects do not extend past delivery. Even though diabetes in pregnancy makes it high-risk, most GD pregnancies result in successful deliveries and healthy infants.
Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about gestational diabetes, its causes and effects on your pregnancy as well as the ways in which you can manage it with more ease.
Diabetes during pregnancy is known as gestational diabetes. It is a type of diabetes of its own, and it differs from type 1 or type 2 diabetes mellitus in that it first appears while a woman is pregnant and disappears after delivery. In most cases, it is diagnosed between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy.
In gestational diabetes, blood sugar levels increase and remain high causing a wide variety of physiological effects. Developing diabetes during pregnancy is quite common as up 10% of pregnant women suffer from this condition.
It has not been determined yet what causes diabetes in pregnancy. In a normal progression of pregnancy, the body becomes slightly resistant to insulin, which results in higher amounts of glucose in the blood used to assemble nutrients for the developing baby. Sometimes, however, pregnancy hormones disturb insulin's function leading to abnormally high sugar levels in the blood.
Certain factors put women at a greater risk for gestational diabetes. They include:
In most cases, gestational diabetes does not produce noticeable symptoms. Some women experience very mild ones, such as increased thirst, fatigue, or more frequent urination.
Many women do not know they have gestational diabetes until they undergo a routine blood glucose test during an antenatal check-up. If the initial glucose test shows sugar levels above 140 mg/dL, your doctor will order an additional test.
Gestational diabetes can be confirmed with blood tests of two kinds:
GD is diagnosed when the results values are near at least two of the following readings:
Gestational diabetes can have negative effects on the growth of the fetus:
Women with gestational diabetes are at a higher risk of developing preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine. Moreover, even though gestational diabetes resolves on its own in many cases, up to 50% of women develop type 2 diabetes after having a baby.
Delivering a large baby might warrant a cesarean section, while high glucose levels during pregnancy might result in premature birth or stillbirth.
Unfortunately, medicine currently does not offer effective strategies to avoid gestational diabetes. A wholesome diet, regular exercise as well as having a healthy weight prior to getting pregnant and preventing excess weight gain during pregnancy can significantly decrease your risk of developing it. Implementing these healthy lifestyle changes three to six months before conceiving greatly boosts your chances of succeeding.
Diabetes in pregnancy guidelines might vary from woman to woman, depending on the severity of her condition and her overall health status. Although there is no treatment or cure for diabetes in pregnancy, it can be effectively managed with the following practices:
Managing gestational diabetes involves providing your body and the baby with proper nutrition by eating healthy foods that do not elevate your glucose levels. Opt for:
When in doubt, consult with a dietician. You might also be interested in learning how to develop a safe and effective gestational diabetes diet and meal plan.
Being physically active will help your control your sugar levels by lowering insulin resistance.
It is important to take medications and insulin injections at proper doses to prevent low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, which can be potentially dangerous.
To complement a well-balanced diet, you should continue with:
Gestational diabetes diagnosis doesn't always come with serious complications. Many women suffering from it still have manageable pregnancies, vaginal deliveries, and healthy babies. They, however, have to be routinely tested for type 2 diabetes following the delivery. It is, therefore, particularly important to keep up with a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, exercising, and maintaining proper weight after you have your baby.
A better understanding of how your body works will help you cope with hormonal fluctuations.
Detecting symptoms of hormonal imbalance can prevent you from developing serious conditions.
Implement simple lifestyle changes and natural approaches to prevent, manage, and relieve symptoms.