Understanding Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that affects pregnant women. A common indicator is the presence of high blood glucose levels, despite no previous history of diabetes in the mother-to-be.
Although it has not been fully determined what causes gestational diabetes, we have some really strong indicators. It all comes down to a term called ‘Insulin Resistance’.
Pregnancy often blocks the usage of insulin in the body. This creates the need for more insulin, which cannot be produced at a faster rate. Without enough insulin, glucose (or sugar) cannot be converted into energy, like it usually happens. This leads to a high level of glucose being built up in the blood, and when the blood glucose levels are high, it is called hyperglycaemia, which is a common indicator of gestational diabetes.
It is important to note that this condition is usually temporary, so there is no need to think that one would now be a diabetic patient for life.
Untreated gestational diabetes can be unhealthy for the baby, as it can cause an abnormal build-up of energy/fat in the baby’s still-developing body. If this continues till the baby is born, the baby usually has a higher body mass.
A heavy body mass at birth can be risky for the new-born’s health, with effects such as damaged shoulders or trouble in breathing normally. Side-effects of this condition on the mother include premature delivery and increased chances of a Caesarean delivery.
However, the good news is that gestational diabetes can be treated, without any adverse effects on either the mother’s or the baby’s health.
This is a fairly common condition that affects nearly 10% of all pregnant women and can be treated fully. It is important that the condition be diagnosed early so that treatment can begin soon to avoid undesirable developments.
Watch out for any symptoms that may indicate high levels of glucose in the mother, such as:
- Unusual thirst
- Frequent urination
- Blurred vision
These symptoms usually start appearing in late pregnancy.
The primary method of treating gestational diabetes is by managing the high levels of blood glucose. This is done by controlling the mother’s diet with personalised plans and including regular physical activity to burn down the additional energy. A doctor may also suggest insulin therapy, if required.
After the treatment begins, it is important to keep monitoring the blood sugar levels and to also check on the proper development of the baby. This may require frequent ultrasounds and similar tests.
In most cases, gestational diabetes disappears soon after the delivery and the mother can return to her normal routine. However, there is a rare chance of her acquiring type-2 diabetes in the future. To minimise this risk, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and plenty of exercise. That said, always consult a doctor before starting on any exercise program.