Some women develop high blood sugar issues when pregnant. This high sugar level condition during pregnancy is known as gestational diabetes. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,6% to 9% of pregnant women in the United States develop gestational diabetes annually.
Health experts believe that excessive weight gain during pregnancy is the leading cause of gestational diabetes. This article highlights the basics of gestational diabetes, from the causes to prevention. Keep reading to learn more.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the sugar levels of pregnant women. Most likely, the affected expectant mothers start to show signs of gestational diabetes 24 and 32 weeks of pregnancy.
Every expectant mother may have gestational diabetes, even when they don't have a history of diabetes. Nevertheless, this condition is easy to manage with exercise and some medications. All expectant mothers are advised to have regular medical checkups to take early measures in case they have gestational diabetes.
What Causes Gestational Diabetes?
The exact cause of gestational diabetes remains unknown to date. However, health experts believe that hormonal changes are the main contributors to gestational diabetes.
When you are pregnant, your body releases many hormones that inhibit the production of insulin in the body. While these hormones are meant to sustain the pregnancy, the hormones may later make your body more resistant to insulin; a hormone that regulates the amount of glucose in your body.
If your body's insulin resistance continues to increase, the glucose level in your body increases and this surge causes gestational diabetes.
What Are The Main Gestational Diabetes Symptoms?
Most women don't show any signs of gestational diabetes, even when they have it. The symptoms mainly appear when the condition is severe. Here are the main noticeable symptoms of this chronic condition:
- Excessive desire to pee
- Excess thirst
- Increased appetite
These symptoms vary from one patient to the other. You should check out with your doctor whenever you experience any sign, no matter how mild it appears.
What Are The Main Risk Factors Of Gestational Diabetes?
As mentioned earlier, any pregnant mother can get gestational diabetes, depending on their hormonal changes. However, the risk factor can be high too if:
- Later in life pregnancy
- You have had a miscarriage before
- You have had gestational diabetes in your previous pregnancies
- You have diabetes
- You gain excessive weight during pregnancy
- You are expecting twins, triplets, or more children
- Your family has a history of gestational diabetes
Can Gestational Diabetes Affect Your Baby?
Your baby should remain safe if you observe your doctor's advice. After giving birth, the doctors should test your baby's sugar level and regulate it accordingly.
It's worth noting that the only time that your baby can get gestational diabetes is when the baby has excess weight or when you were expecting more than one baby. Babies born with this chronic condition tend to have yellow eyes and skin (jaundice), which should disappear in a week's time.
What About The Test And Diagnosis Process?
Don't worry if you have any of the risks mentioned above. Your doctor can carry out a screen test to know more about your health, as well as your chances of getting gestational diabetes.
The test process is quite simple and straightforward.
Your doctor should add at least 50 grams of glucose to a drink and give you. That glucose should raise the sugar level in your body, and after thirty minutes, the doctor should do a glucose test to know your body's reactions towards the glucose.
You don't need to change your diet in any way before you undertake this test. If your body's sugar level is extremely high, your doctor should carry out another test.
The second test is stricter than the first one. This time, you should not eat or drink anything 8 to 14 hours before taking the test. The only drink that you should take while fasting is water alone. Your doctor should give you glucose concentrated drink (containing 100g glucose).
After 60 minutes, the doctor should collect your blood maples and compare your blood results before taking the drink.
How Can You Prevent Gestational Diabetes?
You may not entirely prevent gestational diabetes. However, you can apply a few practices to minimize its effects and safeguard your health. Here are few steps that you can take to prevent gestational diabetes:
1. Maintain Healthy Weight
You should aim at maintaining a healthy weight, even before you conceive. According to this study, excessive weight is the leading cause of gestational diabetes.
You can maintain a healthy weight by eating smaller food portions, taking more fruits and vegetables. If possible, you can find an experienced nutritionist to give you the right gestational diabetes diet.
Exercise can help you maintain the correct body weight as you stay safe from gestational diabetes. You can try walking, jogging, or yoga to keep yourself fit during the pregnancy period.
However, you should avoid strenuous exercises such as running or heavy weightlifting because such exercises are not ideal for pregnant women.
3. Observe Routine Medical Checkups
Every pregnant woman should visit a gynecologist throughout the entire pregnancy period. During the visits, the health expert should examine you to ensure that you don't show any signs of gestational diabetes.
And even if you don't show the symptoms, your gynecologist can advise you on the proper measures to take you to keep both you and your baby safe.
When Should You See A Doctor?
The signs and symptoms of gestational diabetes may not be too worrying for some, especially if they are mild. Nevertheless, it's advisable to visit your doctor if the signs interfere with your daily activities.
But ideally, you should see a doctor anytime during your pregnancy period to confirm that everything is okay.
The Woman's Clinic takes care of pregnant women to protect the health of both mother and baby. Our health experts understand the dangers of gestational diabetes, and that's why we do the best to restore mother and child health. Contact us today to book an appointment and enjoy our efficient services.