Millions of expecting mothers struggle through a particular type of diabetes brought on by pregnancy called gestational diabetes. In this article we have explained “Gestational Diabetes: All You Need to Know“.
In fact, as many as 10% of expecting mothers experience gestational diabetes, although other research suggests the number is closer to 5-7% of pregnancies. This amounts to approximately 250,000 cases of gestational diabetes every year. Gestational diabetes usually develops around the sixth month of pregnancy, or the beginning of the third trimester.
What Causes Gestational Diabetes?
Pregnant women, normally in their third trimester, can experience gestational diabetes when their cells become less responsive to insulin and their blood sugar becomes too high.
Fortunately for women struggling through gestational diabetes, there’s hope. The vast majority of women who develop gestational diabetes recover from the condition shortly after giving birth.
The reason that gestational diabetes often remits after giving birth is that gestational diabetes is brought on by hormonal changes and the increased energy demands of the developing fetus. After birth both your insulin levels and blood sugar levels usually return to normal.
That said, gestational diabetes puts many women at higher risk of developing gestational diabetes in consequent pregnancies.
Risk Factors and Diagnosing Gestational Diabetes
The Mayo Clinic claims that gestational diabetes often has no obvious symptoms. Having said that, the Mayo Clinic also recommends that you have a glucose screening test around your 24th week of pregnancy if you have more than a few of the risk factors mentioned below.
So, what are the risk factors for gestational diabetes? Women over age 25 are progressively more at risk of developing gestational diabetes – as are women with a first-degree relative who’s been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. An additional risk factor for developing gestational diabetes is obesity.
If you meet any or all of the above risk factors, then it’s highly recommended that you get a glucose screening test at the end of your second trimester.
Scoring positive on a glucose screening test, though, doesn’t necessarily indicate that you have gestational diabetes, although you may be asked to take another test known as a glucose tolerance test to more accurately assess your particular risk.
Gestational Diabetes and Birth Complications
The majority of women who develop gestational diabetes recover from the condition after giving birth.
Moreover, the vast majority of pregnant women having struggled with gestational diabetes subsequently give birth to healthy babies, although some women who fail to keep their blood sugar in check can run into complications.
How do these complications develop and how can out-of-control blood sugar affect your developing child’s health? To answer that we need to consider that one of the symptoms of diabetes is elevated blood glucose levels.
In some pregnant women blood glucose levels get so high that they enter the baby’s bloodstream and force the developing child’s pancreas to produce more insulin to keep the excess blood sugar in check.
Unwanted weight gain can be the result, and some babies develop macrosomia, which might require a cesarian section birth or produce nerve damage in the developing baby. Your baby could also be at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life as well.
Tips on Controlling Blood Sugar During Pregnancy
The silver lining is that the majority of gestational diabetes cases do not result in macrosomia or subsequent type 2 diabetes. In fact, there are steps that pregnant mothers can take to combat the risks associated with gestational diabetes.
Although some pregnant women diagnosed with gestational diabetes need medication to control their insulin levels, most pregnant women can control their blood sugar levels by getting regular exercise and embracing dietary changes aimed at stabilizing blood sugar levels.
In particular, avoiding high glycemic index foods like candies, ice cream and sugary sodas and making sure not to miss meals, especially breakfast, can help keep your blood sugar more constant throughout the day.
More foods to limit or eliminate altogether, according to the University of California-San Francisco Medical Center, are fruit juices, potatoes, and some cereals.
In conjunction with the dietary recommendations mentioned above, exercise is also a great supplement to dietary changes and can help your body more efficiently process glucose. The end result is a healthier pregnancy with fewer chances of complications.