Few people tend to develop high blood sugar during pregnancy, and the condition is known as gestational diabetes (GD). Exercise and a healthy diet may usually keep it under control, but there are times when you need insulin to manage GD. If you leave it untreated, it may lead to health problems for both fetuses and you.
Meaning of Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes (GD) is the kind of diabetes that develops during pregnancy when blood sugar levels get high. The duration for GD to appear is usually during the mid of pregnancy, i.e., between 24 and 28 weeks.
Development of GD doesn’t mean that you already have diabetes before getting pregnant. The condition tends to appear due to pregnancy. People with Type 2 and Type 1 diabetes face challenges when discussing pregnancy.
Causes of Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes comes from hormonal changes and how our bodies convert food into energy. The insulin hormone breaks down the glucose (sugar) from the food that delivers it to the body cells. Insulin keeps the glucose level in the blood at healthy levels. However, if the insulin doesn’t work properly or in case a person lacks it, sugar will start building up in the blood leading to diabetes.
Hormones may interfere in pregnant women with the way insulin works. As a result, it may not regulate the blood sugar levels as it should, leading to gestational diabetes. Being Overweight (BMI more than 25) and genes may also play a role in this.
Who is at risk
GD may develop in anyone during pregnancy. However, people over 25 and from Pacific Island, Native American, Hispanic, East, and South Asian descent are at a higher risk.
Other factors that may increase the chances of Gestational diabetes are:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Family or personal history of GD.
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Previous birth of a baby weighing 9 pounds (lb) or more.
Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes
There are not quite evident symptoms of gestational diabetes, but people suffering from it often experience the following:
- Frequent urination
Diagnosing Gestational Diabetes
Healthcare providers will test your blood sugar during pregnancy. The tests may have two parts:
Glucose tolerance test
It is an oral glucose tolerance test and happens if your challenge test results are different. Before taking the tolerance test, you must fast (do not eat for eight hours). Your healthcare provider will draw blood before and at intervals of 1, 2, and 3 hours after the intake of sweet liquid. The tolerance test helps confirm if a person has gestational diabetes or not.
Glucose challenge test
In this test, you need to drink a sweet liquid. After an hour, you’ll have a blood test that checks the blood sugar level. In case, the blood sugar is high, your healthcare provider will recommend for glucose tolerance test.
Managing Gestational Diabetes
If a person gets diagnosed with gestational diabetes, they may need more frequent checkups during pregnancy. Healthcare providers will check the blood sugar levels at regular intervals. The patient will also need to monitor the blood sugar at home with a tool known as a glucose meter.
Few people require medications like insulin to manage gestational diabetes. However, most individuals may control their blood sugar levels with exercise and diet changes.
However, if you still need insulin to control diabetes, it is crucial to take it exactly as per the doctor’s prescription.
- Why is treating Gestational diabetes (GD) important?
If you leave gestational diabetes untreated, it may lead to complications for both mother and the fetus.
Gestations diabetes tends to increase the risk of:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy)
- Cesarean birth (C-section) if the fetus gets too big.
- Can a person have a healthy pregnancy with gestational diabetes?
Yes, you can have a healthy baby and pregnancy even with gestational diabetes. GD is a highly manageable and treatable condition. You can work along with your healthcare provider, and they can help you design a treatment plan to keep blood sugar levels at a healthy level.
- How to prevent Gestational diabetes during pregnancy?
It is not entirely preventable, but you can take a few steps to at least reduce the risks. You can start by consuming a balanced diet and regular exercise during and before pregnancy. It is the best way to reduce the risks of developing gestational diabetes.
Gestational Diabetes (GD) develops during pregnancy when there’s a lot of glucose in your blood. You can usually diagnose GD during the middle stages of pregnancy with a few simple blood tests. However, if you leave it untreated, GD may lead to health complications for the fetus and the mother. Most individuals may manage gestational diabetes with exercise and diet. Few will also need medications, and you can get these medications at a discount in the US through pharmacy discount card.
Gestational diabetes increases the risks of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life, so you must talk to your healthcare provider about reducing the diabetes risks before, during, and after the pregnancy.