Gestational diabetes - is there anything to worry about?
Pregnancy diabetes, also known as gestational diabetes, defines diabetes that’s diagnosed in women during pregnancy and ceases after giving birth. Research is yet to discover the causes of this particular strain of diabetes, but some people are more exposed to the condition.
Is pregnancy diabetes similar to other types of diabetes?
Similar to other strains of diabetes gestational diabetes affects the manner in which your cells consume sugar (glucose). It increases your level of blood sugar, which is highly unhealthy during pregnancy. It can easily distress your pregnancy and the health of your baby as well.
While there’s reason for concern, it’s not all bad bews. As an expectant mother, you have some level of control over the condition. It is advisable to engage in healthy feeding habits, regular exercise, and take necessary medication under your GP advisement. If you manage to effectively control your blood sugar level, you should maintain a healthy pregnancy and better yet, a healthy baby. It will also help you avoid complications during delivery.
Does gestational diabetes continue even after delivery?
The one good thing about pregnancy diabetes is that your blood sugar returns to its normal levels soon after delivery. Although you don’t have to worry about the condition, there are chances that you could be pre-exposed to type 2 diabetes. The safest and healthiest option would be to arrange constant checkups with your doctor to ensure that your blood sugar levels remain normal. It is also important to maintain a healthy diet and regular work outs even post pregnancy. In fact, make it a lifestyle.
What are the Symptoms for Gestational Diabetes?
Most women suffering from the condition don’t report any noticeable symptoms. However, if you experience increased thirst and highly frequent urination patterns, it is advisable to pay your GP a visit. Although checking for gestational diabetes is a normal part of your prenatal care process, it is recommended to check your risk level with your GP if you are trying to conceive. In the event you develop the condition, your doctor will advise you on the need for frequent checkups. The condition is most likely to develop during the third trimester, even though your doctor may detect it earlier.
Risk factors contributing to pregnancy diabetes:
Age (Older women are more exposed to the condition)
Failure to engage in regular physical activity
Genetics (History of gestational diabetes in your immediate family)
History of the condition in preceding pregnancy
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Race (Black, Asian American, Hispanic, and American Indian women are at a higher risk of developing pregnancy diabetes )
What happens if pregnancy diabetes is not detected or controlled?
If left undetected, and therefore uncontrolled, gestational diabetes significantly increases the risk of birth complications. Shoulder dystocia, for example, is one of the common complications. It means that your baby’s shoulders will get trapped during delivery. Another common complication is experienced if the newborn appears too big for their gestational age. Although it can occur during the second trimester, gestational diabetes is most commonly detected in the third. As such, it is important to maintain regular prenatal visits to ensure it is caught early enough.
Although gestational diabetes is not uncommon, it should not be underestimated as it can lead to severe consequences for the baby such as excessive body weight, early delivery or hypoglycaemia.
Risks for the baby:
Excessive Birth Weight:If your blood sugar levels are higher than normal during pregnancy, your baby can easily weigh over 9 pounds causing them to get stuck in the birth canal. As a result, they could easily sustain some injuries during delivery. In such cases, your doctor is likely to suggest delivery through Caesarian Section.
Early delivery: It is also known as preterm birth. If your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, you are at risk of going into labor before your due date. Sometimes, your doctor can also recommend early delivery due to the large size of the baby to avoid any complications that may result from waiting for the due date.
Major Breathing difficulties: Babies born preterm due to pregnancy diabetes can suffer from respiratory distress syndrome, which makes it difficult to breathe.
Hypoglycemia: It is a condition that arises due to low blood sugar levels. Babies born to gestational diabetic mothers are likely to suffer from hypoglycemia. In cases of severely low blood sugar levels, the condition can easily cause seizures in babies. The doctor will likely advise upon prompt feeding, but in extreme cases an intravenous glucose solution should normalize the baby’s blood sugar levels.
Risks for you:
High blood pressure and preeclampsia: High blood pressure is extremely bad during pregnancy, as it threatens both your life and that of your baby.
Caesarian Section: Normal delivery can result into severe complications for gestational diabetic mothers. As such, C-Section is the safer and recommended option.
Future diabetes: Once you develop gestational diabetes, you are likely to suffer from the same in future pregnancies. As you grow older, you will also be at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Although it is difficult to fully prevent gestational diabetes adopting healthy habits helps tremendously. Making healthy lifestyle choices may reduce the risk of recurrent gestational diabetes during future pregnancies or even the possibility of acquiring type 2 diabetes as you age. Some of the most recommended healthy lifestyle choices include balanced eating habits, regular exercise, and observing weight. The most important thing is to stay calm, keep in constant contact with your GP and work out a treatment that will work. Remember, prevention is better than cure. As always, please do not view the content of this article as a substitute for a medical consultation.
Irish Neonatal Health Alliance