Most pregnancies are trouble-free. However, some serious medical issues are most likely to affect some of the expecting moms. Some of such issues appear only in the course of pregnancy and disappear after the delivery. Already, long list of do’s and don’ts come hand in hand with a pregnancy. Having an unexpected medical issue in the course of pregnancy will only make the matters worse. Here, we are doing to learn about one of the most commonly found medical issue, which develops only during pregnancy – gestational diabetes.
What Is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes, as the name suggests, is diabetes that first appears in the course of pregnancy. An expecting mother, who never had diabetes, prior to the pregnancy, will experience it only during the gestational period. Much the same as type 1 and type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes makes the blood sugar levels high. Insulin, secreted by the pancreas, helps the cells to assimilate the glucose from the blood. When you are pregnant, your body actually turns out to be impervious to insulin so that more glucose is accessible to sustain your baby. Normally, it is not a big issue for most of the mothers as, once the body demands more insulin to regulate excess glucose in the blood, the pancreas secrete more insulin accordingly.
Yet, in some instances, the pancreas are not able to meet the increased demand for insulin in the course of pregnancy. Therefore, the blood sugar levels elevate, as the cells are not using the glucose. The outcome is gestational diabetes.
How Does Having Gestational Diabetes Affect My Pregnancy?
Gestational diabetes should be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible on the grounds that it can bring out health issues for both the mother and fetus.
If the gestational diabetes is not carefully taken care of and the blood glucose levels stay high, it can increase the risk of:
- Premature delivery and stillbirth: Premature delivery and stillbirth are more common among mothers with unrecognized and untreated gestational diabetes
- Miscarriage: Gestational diabetes during the initial months of pregnancy triggers miscarriage
- Preeclampsia: Gestational diabetes is mostly accompanied by high blood pressure and preeclampsia
- Future diabetes: In the event that, you experienced gestational diabetes, you will probably get it again during the next pregnancy. You are likewise more prone to type-2 diabetes as you get more aged
How Does Gestational Diabetes Affect My Baby?
As an outcome of gestational diabetes that is left untreated or uncontrolled, the fetus could develop issues including:
- Macrosomia: Macrosomia refers to the condition when the baby is significantly larger than what is considered normal till in the gestation period. This happens when the extra glucose of the mother (experiencing gestational diabetes) crosses the placenta. This additional blood glucose makes the blood glucose levels of the fetus high. This prompts the child’s pancreas to produce more insulin. Since the child is getting more calories than it needs to develop and build up, the additional calorie is put away as fat deposits, making the baby grow too big. This, in turn, increases the risk of shoulder dystocia and brachial plexus injury
- Hypoglycemia: Sometimes babies develop low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) not long after birth, as their own insulin level is significantly high – but the excess supply of sugar has been cut off now. In extreme cases, the condition of hypoglycemia may induce seizures in the newborn
- Pre-term birth and respiratory distress: Gestational diabetes increase the chances of preterm birth. Babies born prematurely experience issues with breathing. Even if not born early, the babies born to the mothers with gestational diabetes are found to develop respiratory distress syndrome
- Type 2 diabetes and obesity in the future: The babies born to a mother with gestational diabetes are at higher risk to become obese and develop type 2 diabetes in the future
Who Is At The Risk Of Getting Gestational Diabetes?
Around 5 to 10 percent of all expecting mothers get gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes can happen to any expecting mother. However, some expecting mothers are at more risk to possess gestational diabetes. You are more prone to gestational diabetes if:
- You are more than 25 years
- Your very close relatives (like mother and sister) have type 2 diabetes
- You have an unexplained stillbirth in previous delivery
- You have a history of gestational diabetes
- You are obese
How Can I Deal With Gestational Diabetes And Lead A Healthy Pregnancy?
Gestational diabetes can be dealt by monitoring and maintaining blood glucose at optimum levels, by carefully taking on a well-planned diet and exercising regularly. Managing gestational diabetes is vital, as it affects the pregnancy and the health of the mother and fetus. You can still lead a healthy and issue-less pregnancy, even if you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Remember, both do’s and don’t do’s are equally important when it comes to gestational diabetes. Here are ten ways to deal with gestational diabetes:
- Getting regular medical checkups: Unlike normal pregnancy, if you have gestational diabetes, the frequency of your visit to your doctor will be more. This is because you and your baby are in need of close monitoring. Therefore, never ever miss a scheduled medical checkup as this can bring about unpleasant issues
- Monitoring the growth and development of the fetus: The specialist should closely monitor your baby if you are experiencing gestational diabetes. Your baby’s growth and development will be closely watched and recorded with (repeated )ultrasounds and other tests. This will help the doctor to plan a preterm delivery if it is necessary to save the baby
- Medication: Sometimes, mothers with gestational diabetes may need to take diabetes medicines or insulin shots to deal with the condition. If your doctor prescribed insulin shots or medicines, strictly follow his instruction.
- Consult a dietitian specialized in diabetic diet: Consulting a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator (CDE) can help you to manage the issue effectively. A CDE can teach you when and how to check your blood sugar, how to alter your eating routine and physical activities to hold the blood sugar under control. They will teach you what all should be taken care of while taking the medications and shots which is prescribed to you by your specialist
- Sticking to meal plan: Sticking to the meal plan designed by your dietitian is very important. Eat small meals more often. Include food high in fiber. Limit the intake of fat. Choosing healthy cooking methods is equally important. Go for grilling and steaming rather than frying. Avoid sugary and fatty foods (like pastries and sweets). Increase the intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. Likewise, write down the food you have every day with time. This record will help you find how well the eating plan is working and the need for the changes that should be implemented in the diet
- Track the weight gain: Track your weekly weight gain and maintain it as directed by your doctor
- Monitoring blood sugar levels: Just as it is with any type of diabetes, if you have gestational diabetes, it is indispensable to check the blood sugar levels on regular intervals. You can find home blood glucose testing kits at most of the pharmacies and online retail You ought to check your blood glucose level first thing in the morning. Repeat it one to two hours after every meal of the day. As per the ADA, your blood glucose levels ought to peruse:
- Fasting blood sugar– 95 milligrams/deciliter (mg/dl) or lower. (**Please note these values are for reference purposes only. Please check with your doctor as to what should you ideal sugar levels be**)
(For finding out fasting blood sugar, take the reading as soon as you wake up in the morning)
- Two-hour postprandial blood sugar – 120 mg/dl or lower. (For finding out two-hour postprandial blood sugar, take the reading two hours after the meal
- One-hour postprandial blood sugar – 140 mg/dl or lower (For finding out one-hour postprandial blood sugar, take the reading one hour after the meal
- Regular exercise: Regular exercise is important and imperative to govern your blood sugar levels, as it helps to improve the metabolism of blood sugar. Women with gestational diabetes ought to get no less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activities around five days a week. This can incorporate strolling, swimming, simple aerobics, yoga. However, potentially perilous exercises like basketball, tennis, badminton, etc. ought to be stayed away from, as the odds of “mishaps” are high
- Include carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are the critical part of your diabetes diet. They are the fuel for your body and for the developing fetus as well. Though, a normal individual needs 135 grams of carbohydrate every day, if you have gestational diabetes, the demand rise to 175 grams per day. Eating food rich in carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and dairy products will help to meet the demand of carbs
- Do not drink sweetened drinks: Avoid drinking sweet tea, cola, carbonated soft drinks, and any beverage with added sugars. Sweet beverages raise your blood sugar levels instantly, which is the reason they should be off your menu. However, drink plenty of water and include low-fat milk in the daily menu
You may find it hard to cope with gestational diabetes at first. With all the cravings, you may feel very sad when you have to follow a strict diet and say goodbye to the food you love. You may likewise, think that it’s difficult to rouse yourself to physical activities, especially when you are tired and feeling clumsy. However, it is critical for a healthy pregnancy. Therefore, it’s imperative to attempt your best.