Motherhood is the most special phase of a women’s life that brings enormous changes not just in their lives but in their body as well. These nine months mark the happiest and difficult days for a woman. Though you take all the precautions to have a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby, this gestation period may bring some hardships or health problems for many women.
One such complication is “Gestational Diabetes”. It is a condition where the blood sugar levels of pregnant women soar high. It is a temporary and most common health problem reported in nearly 26% of women in India and is the highest globally.
What is the main cause of gestational diabetes?
During pregnancy, the baby gets oxygen and other nutrients from the mother through the placenta. The placenta also produces hormones for the child’s development; these hormones often cause glucose to build up in your blood and also affect the efficiency of Insulin in regulating the blood sugar level in your body. As a result, all pregnant women have some insulin resistance during late pregnancy. Usually, most pregnant women can produce enough insulin to overcome this insulin resistance, but some cannot, resulting in Gestational Diabetes.
How does gestational diabetes in a mother affect the baby?
The insulin requirement by the mother’s body rises three times the normal during the pregnancy, but in some women, the insulin produced by the pancreas is not efficient enough for regulating the glucose levels in the blood. Due to the high blood sugar level in the mother’s blood, the baby gets more nutrients and increases in size that may result in complications like premature or even C-section delivery.
Also, post-delivery the insulin levels remain high in the baby that may cause a lower blood sugar level or a condition of Hypoglycaemia. This may also result in future diabetes or Type-2 diabetes in both mother and the baby. The condition is also linked to jaundice in the baby, which can be cured with timely treatment. This is the reason doctors recommend delivering the baby in a healthcare unit backed by NICU support for the new born, especially for the mothers with Gestational Diabetes.
What are the factors that add up to gestational diabetes?
The factors that increase the risk of gestational diabetes are:
- If you have poor dietary habits
- You are above the age of 30years
- Are over-weight
- Have a history of diabetes in the family
- Had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
Have health conditions linked to insulin issues like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD)
Have heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or other medical complications.
Are there any indicators of gestational diabetes?
Although it has no major symptoms of gestational diabetes, in some cases you may observe:
- Extreme thirst
- Frequent Urination
- Blurred vision
Is gestational diabetes something to worry about?
What test results show gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes can usually be seen in the 24th-28th week of pregnancy. Your doctor may perform the glucose tolerance test to confirm it.
In this test, you will drink a syrup containing glucose; after an hour the doctor will take the blood sugar level. If the tests show higher than normal results, you may require the follow-up test.
For the follow-up test, you will require an overnight fast, and the next day must go through the same procedure. The doctor may take 2-3 readings in a few hours gap. If the readings come high again, chances are that you are diagnosed with Gestational diabetes.
What is the best treatment for gestational diabetes?
If you have gestational diabetes, you must consult your Obstetrician and start the treatment as soon as possible to keep yourself and your baby healthy during your pregnancy and delivery. It is very important to maintain your blood sugar level in a safe range. A few modifications in your lifestyle can help you through it.
- Switch to a healthy diet
- Aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Keep a check on the amount of Carbohydrate in your diet
- Increase the protein portion in your diet
- Monitor your blood sugar level with a glucometer
The best prevention from Gestational Diabetes is to take a step early to keep yourself and the baby healthy. Don’t forget, it can be treated. Consult with your gynaecologist doctor for a healthy diet plan and exercises to ensure a healthy pregnancy.