Diabetes is something everyone dreads these days, after all who wants to skip on those sweets right? Even more dreadful thing about diabetes is the fact that you can get it while you are pregnant. As scary as it sounds, gestational diabetes can affect the health of your unborn baby as well. There are various reasons for an expectant mother to get gestational diabetes and numerous outcomes that it can have on your as well as your little one’s health. Let’s get to know more about it.
Why do women get gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs while a woman is pregnant. As a natural process, your body starts storing more glucose in the body to nourish your baby and certain hormonal changes during pregnancy can make blood sugar levels to rise beyond normal which gives rise to lots of pregnancy complications. While most women are able to carry out a normal healthy pregnancy, many women struggle to keep up because their body is simply not producing enough insulin to break down the excess glucose in their blood stream. This results in gestational diabetes which can be dangerous but easily treated if detected early on. Some factors that make you more susceptible to gestational diabetes are:
- Age above 25
- Family history of diabetics
- Overweight or BMI above 30
- Patient with PCOS
- Glucose intolerant
- Had a big baby before
Effects of Gestational Diabetes on the baby
The basic principle of glucose and diabetes is that body needs insulin to break down glucose. If the body cannot produce enough insulin, more glucose stays in the blood stream and since the baby gets all nutrients from you, it also stores glucose and sugar as fat in the body. This makes the baby grow bigger and weigh more than usual. Some complications of gestational diabetes are:
- Complications and injury during delivery due to bigger size
- Low blood sugar and mineral level after delivery
- Preterm birth
- Temporary breathing problems
- Greater risk of diabetes and obesity later in life
How does Gestational Diabetes affect the baby?
Even though most women with gestational diabetes give birth to completely normal and healthy kids, there can be some problems and health issues your baby could face after birth. Gestational diabetes does not cause any deformities or health hazards to the baby but it does cause a few problems like:
- Macrosomia: Since your baby stores more fat in his/her body due to gestational diabetes, there are possibilities that your baby could be larger and bigger than usual babies. This causes injuries in babies during a normal delivery and such babies are normally delivered through a C-section.
- Hypoglycemia: Since the baby is used to getting more than usual amounts of sugar in their bloodstream, there is possibility your baby would need to get more breastfeeding to keep up with sugar demands. If not, then he/she would need glucose feedings through plastic tubes via their arm to put glucose directly into his/her blood.
- Jaundice: Your baby could also develop jaundice which causes the skin and parts of the eye to turn yellowish. However, it is not a dangerous condition and can be treated easily.
- Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS): Gestational diabetes could cause your little one to have respiratory and breathing issues after birth and need oxygen support.
- Low Calcium & Magnesium Levels: Your baby could develop spasms or muscle cramps due to low levels of calcium and magnesium in their body due to gestational diabetes. This can be treated by providing supplements to fulfill the body requirements.
Does your baby need special care?
Although gestational diabetes does not cause any birth defects in babies it can give long life risks to such babies like risk of obesity or risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes later in life. With a healthy diet and care of your little one’s body, you can ensure that your baby is out of any such problems.
Most cases of gestational diabetes are diagnosed later in pregnancy and by that time the baby has grown without any possible defects. However, you must ensure a healthy diet throughout your pregnancy and conduct tests to detect diabetes during pregnancy with the consultation of your doctor to make sure you and your baby are safe!