Diabetes may be developed at the time or during pregnancy in a woman who does pursue diabetes previously. This is called gestational diabetes, which affects 2-3 percent of pregnant women. If it is not monitored properly, it can lead to complications for the mother or even her baby. Pregnancy is most special time period in any woman’s life. It is period of great joy and enthusiasm, but also the time of anxiety and different questions occurs in mind such as: How will I deal with the pregnancy? With the pain in labor and delivery? Will my baby be alright? These questions may be even more difficult for women with diabetes. Having children is a big decision for anyone among us. If you are a woman who has a history of diabetes, however, it is a decision that requires much more thought, precautions and careful planning. Many women who have diabetes whether it is Type 1, Type 2 or Gestational diabetes have delivered healthy babies.
What is Pregnancy Gestational Diabetes
Gestational Diabetes occurs when the pregnant woman’s body is not able to produce or create enough of the hormone insulin. This refers that her body is not able to break down the sugar that she consumes and not able to convert it into energy. Therefore her blood sugar levels raises high and this will be passed on to the baby, which can cause severe problems.
Who Can Be Affected?
The pregnant women who is most likely to be affected will fit the under mentioned criteria;
- Age above 35
- History of diabetes in family
- Previously delivered large baby
- Previously given birth to a baby with an malfunction or defect
- Undergone abortion in late pregnancy
Symptoms of gestational diabetes
One of the troubles of gestational diabetes is that it does not marked itself with clear symptoms. The symptoms are common to high blood sugar, thirst, frequent urination, hunger as it sometimes occur, but all of them are common in the latter stages of pregnancy.
Going for baby is a big decision for anyone. If you are a woman who has diabetes, however, it is a decision that requires much more thoughts, precautions, and planning. Many women who have diabetes (Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational diabetes) have healthy pregnancies and healthy and fit babies. But this does not mean that they achieved good result very easily, it requires a lot of efforts and dedication from your side.
Whether Am I at risk of developing gestational diabetes?
If you have one or more of the under mentioned factors you are more likely to develop gestational diabetes:
Perusing a family history of diabetes in a relative such as parent, brother or sister.
If you had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy.
If the previous baby had a birth defect or some malfunction.
How is Gestational Diabetes Diagnosed
Your doctor, most likely your obstetrician/gynecologist, but also your primary care practitioner, will likely review your risk level and discuss any risk factors you might have with you; this is part of routine screening for gestational diabetes.
If the doctor feels you are at high risk of developing gestational diabetes, s/he will probably check your blood glucose level early in the pregnancy—sometimes as soon as your pregnancy is confirmed. If you/’re blood sugar levels are in the normal range, you can expect the doctor to recheck your blood glucose levels again in the second trimester—around 24 to 28 weeks.
To diagnose gestational diabetes, your doctor will have you do an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), or glucose challenge. S/he will give you instructions on how to prepare for the test, but you won’t be able to eat anything for 8 hours before the test; you’ll be fasting. This test is often done in the morning after an overnight fast.
On the day of the test, the doctor will test your blood glucose level at the beginning of the appointment; that’s called your fasting blood glucose level.
Then, you’ll drink 75 g of a very sugary mixture. Every hour over the course of two hours, your blood glucose level will be measured.
The American Diabetes Association has set the following “above-normal” levels:1
- Fasting: At or above 92 mg/dL
- 1 Hour: At or above 180 mg/dL
- 2 Hour: At or above 153 mg/dL
If your blood glucose level is elevated (above normal) at least once during the test, your doctor will tell you that you have gestational diabetes. To reduce the risk of diabetes-related problems for you and your baby, follow your doctor’s instructions. Some of the adjustments may be hard but like much of pregnancy, it’s temporary and worth it!
Keep in mind, when blood sugar levels are not well controlled, the baby will gain more weight than is healthy, and you may face having to deliver a baby that weighs 10 pounds more.
If I Have Gestational Diabetes, How Will It Be Treated?
Treating gestational diabetes comes down to one key factor: controlling your blood sugar. The goal is to manage your blood glucose level so that it doesn’t go too high and stay high. This is accomplished by eating wisely, remaining physically active, and if needed taking medication to help keep your blood sugar levels in your target range.
The importance of treating gestational diabetes gained attention following the Hyperglycemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes (HAPO) trial, which demonstrated a direct link between continuous treatment of the maternal glucose levels and reducing negative outcomes.2
- Eating Wisely. Meals will require more thought, indeed a lot more thought, than must be necessary if you have gestational diabetes. You’ll need to pay attention to what you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat. A registered dietitian (RD) or certified diabetes educator (CDE) can help you create a meal plan that’s full of good-for-you and good-for-the-baby foods. The goal of the meal plan is to make it easier to control your blood glucose level so it stays in your target range. Your meal plan will reflect your likes and dislikes, and will take into account your overall health and physical activity level.
For more information on what goes into the meal plan and what you can eat, read our article on the healthy meal planning with diabetes.
- Physical Activity: When you are active your body uses more glucose, so walking or exercising can help to lower your blood glucose level. Also when you are active, your body doesn’t need as much insulin to transport the glucose; your body becomes less insulin resistant. Since your body isn’t using insulin well when you have gestational diabetes, a lower insulin resistance is a very good thing.
And of course, there are all the other usual benefits that come with being physically active: it can help you control your weight during pregnancy, keep your heart healthy, improve your sleep, and even reduce stress and lighten your mood.
Exercise just as you did before you got pregnant. If you were not that active, look for classes geared toward pregnant women; you can start at the local Y or a nearby hospital. After checking with your doctor about what’s all right to do while you’re pregnant, try to get at least 30 minutes of activity every day. That can be walking, biking, or Zumba. Yoga counts too! Even walking through the grocery store aisles counts as exercise, as does doing raking and housework. The point is to be up and moving rather than sitting.
- Medications/Insulin: Most people are able to control blood glucose levels through adjustments in diet and exercise. However, if you need a little extra help, the doctor may prescribe insulin or another medication to assist your body in regulating your blood glucose level. These medications will not have any negative effect on your baby. Remember, the most important goal is to keep your blood sugar in the target range to give you and your baby the best health in the long-term.
You’ll know how well you’re doing controlling your blood glucose level by monitoring it several times per day. This is done by checking your blood glucose. Your health care practitioner will explain how to use a blood glucose monitor, and you’ll receive detailed instructions on when and how often to check your blood sugar. You’ll also be asked to keep track of your glucose daily levels to help both you and the doctor know how well you are managing.
Are You Pregnant?
Follow these simple pregnancy tips on safety and nutrition to stay healthy throughout the nine months before you give birth to a healthy baby.