When you are expecting, you often go through rounds of tests to ensure that your baby is healthy. You maintain a good diet, follow an exercise regime and do a lot of things you never did before. And while you find yourself changing externally, there are numerous changes which occur in your body unmasking themselves at various stages of pregnancy.
One of these changes is the high blood sugar level, which often shows itself up when you are halfway through your pregnancy. Medically, this condition is known as Gestational Diabetes and its dismaying to know that Asian, African and Native American women are at higher risk of acquiring it. It is also a fact that gestational diabetes occurs in about 4% of all pregnancies.
Gestational diabetes is a condition characterised by high blood sugar (glucose) levels that is first recognised during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, increased levels of certain hormones made in the placenta help shift nutrients from the mother to the developing fetus. To help prevent the mother from developing low blood sugar, the placenta produces other hormones which work by resisting the action of Insulin. Over the course of the pregnancy, these hormones lead to higher blood sugar levels. To try and bring these down, the body produces more insulin.
Usually, the mother's pancreas is able to produce more insulin to overcome the effect of the pregnancy hormones. If, however, the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin, blood sugar levels will rise, resulting in gestational diabetes.
WHO SHOULD BE CAREFUL?
- Moms who were overweight before expecting
- Moms who had gestational diabetes in the earlier pregnancies
- Moms who have given birth to a stillborn baby before
- Moms who have given birth to a baby of over 9 pounds before
- Those who've had a family history of diabetes
To-be-moms diagnosed with gestational diabetes are vulnerable towards developing Type-2 diabetes later, though this may not hold true in all the cases. Usually, the screening tests for gestational diabetes are done between 24 to 28 weeks of the pregnancy age. Gestational diabetes, if treated in time, does not have any influence on the health of the baby. If left untreated, this can have major effects on the baby which includes stillbirth, or an unhealthy baby which has a likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes in the long run.
HOW CAN YOU DETECT IT?
Following are the few symptoms of gestational diabetes:
- Impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose (blood sugar levels are high, but not high enough to be diabetes)
- Sugar in urine
- Too much amniotic fluid (polyhydramnios)
The above conditions can be detected through an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT), Urine dipstick for sugar and an Ultrasound scan respectively.
There is always some amount of precaution we can take even for situations not in our control!
- Exercise and maintain your diet before planning a pregnancy.
- Healthy diets and recommended exercise help towards its treatment
- Maintain regular visits to your Obstetrician / Gynecologist
- Keeping a check on your blood sugar levels
Don’t worry! With proper treatment, you can deliver a healthy baby despite having diabetes.