Gestational diabetes only occurs when you are expecting and usually disappear after the delivery. It is a condition where the blood sugar levels rise above normal when a woman is pregnant since the body does not make enough insulin (hormone) that keeps a check on the blood sugar level. This condition can cause problems for the mother and the little one during and after birth if it’s not well managed.
What causes gestational diabetes?
A placenta is an organ that develops during pregnancy. It supplies oxygen and nutrients to the growing baby and eliminates waste products from the baby’s blood. Not just that, the placenta makes hormones that lead to a buildup (rare cases) of glucose in the mother’s blood which at times is too much for the insulin (produced by the pancreas) to handle. This results in an increase in the blood sugar levels causing gestational diabetes.
Who is at risk of gestational diabetes?
You are likely to have gestational diabetes if you:
- Are overweight or obese
- Have high blood sugar levels
- Have a family history of diabetes
- Have medical complications such as high blood pressure
- Had gestational diabetes before (previous pregnancy)
- Have given previously birth to a stillborn baby or large baby (4.5kg or more)
- Genetically belong to South Asian, Chinese, African-Caribbean or Middle Eastern origin
What are the symptoms of gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes symptoms are very rare or difficult to identify. If you are experiencing the following symptoms (mildly), then we suggest you get it checked at the nearest hospital. Some of the symptoms are:
- Excessive thirst
- Sudden blurred vision
- Frequent hunger
- Constant fatigue
- Excessive urination
How is gestational diabetes diagnosed?
The screening for gestational diabetes is performed by the doctor when you are 24 to 28 weeks pregnant. The most common and quickest way of testing is called the Glucose challenge test (one step testing). Here, your doctor or other healthcare specialists will ask you to drink a sugary drink (glucose solution). This will elevate your blood sugar level. After one hour, you’ll receive the blood test. If your blood sugar level is higher than normal (anywhere from 130 milligrams per deciliter or higher) your doctor will ask you to go for a three-hour oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). Some doctors perform the glucose tolerance test and skip the glucose challenge test altogether.
The glucose tolerance test is a two-step test. Here, a blood sample is taken in the morning on an empty stomach. After the blood sample is sent to the laboratory for further examination, you are given a glucose drink and asked to rest for two hours. Then another blood sample is taken to check as to how the body is dealing with the glucose. The result will identify whether you have or you don’t have gestational diabetes.
What is the treatment for gestational diabetes?
Assertiveness is the best treatment for gestational diabetes. Therefore, if you have gestational diabetes then, make sure to keep a blood sugar testing kit handy so that you can monitor the effectiveness of the treatment.
Another thing that you can do is, eat healthy foods. Consume foods rich in fiber and low in fat and calories. Also, remember to watch the portion sizes.
Stay active and keep a check on the weight. An active life before and during pregnancy can protect you from gestational diabetes. Therefore, grab those sports shoes and go for a run, walk, or jog to keep gestational diabetes at bay. Remember, every step that you take elevates your chances of staying healthy!