SolveYourProblem Article Series: Pregnancy
Pregnancy: Everything You Need To Know

     

     

Gestational Diabetes:
What is it and What are the Signs?
   

It is said that a women who has never had a problem with her blood sugar before but does while pregnant has gestational diabetes. It affects a whole 4% of all pregnant women and many of them had no clue it could happen to them or have a previous history. The entire cause of this condition is unknown and why it attacks some and not all is unknown as well. Some believe it could be caused by placental hormones blocking the motherís insulin from being useful and aiding the sugar into the cells. This type of insulin resistance can lead the motherís body to produce too much insulin, but not be able to use it. Gestational diabetes is a result of this where the sugar builds up in the blood stream and doesnít enter the body cells to be used as energy. It causes the mother to become hyperglycemic and puts her and her baby at risk. If untreated and not controlled the mother could go into a coma, premature labor, or even die depending on the severity.

Normally gestational diabetes strikes later in pregnancy: around the 28th week or so. The baby has already been completely formed and is now in the growing and fat storage phase of development. The risk of birth defects is almost none because of this. This affects the baby by getting extra sugar through the placenta when the diabetes is not controlled appropriately. This causes the baby to get a high blood sugar content and start laying down more fat. This has many possible complications including being too large to be born vaginally, getting stuck in the vagina, shoulder injuries, low sugar levels after birth that require treatment, and possible breathing problems. Making sure that this illness is kept under complete control and you follow your doctorís orders is very important.

Most treatment plans for gestational diabetes are easy to follow. It usually means following a special meal plan, getting exercise, and testing your blood sugar with a finger stick. If diet isnít enough, then insulin injections might be necessary. You would do a blood stick 2 to 3 times per day or after meals to see if your sugar is too high and then give your self a shot to stabilize it. Your doctor or nurse will teach you how and where to do the shots if need be. Staying on top of your treatment will help prevent you from needing a cesarean section due to too large of a baby. It can also reduce the risks of any complicating health issues for the baby and you. Most times the gestational diabetes goes away shortly after birth. Once you have had one pregnancy with gestational diabetes you are at higher risk of developing it again with future pregnancies. There are some women however that pregnancy uncovers type I or II diabetes, and can go on to develop type II in the future. Both gestational and type II diabetics tend to be able to control their sugar simply through diet, and only need insulin on rare occasions. There are ways to lower your risk of diabetes that only need a few basic lifestyle changes.

  • Lose weight, losing even a few pounds can help you avoid developing type 2 diabetes
  • Make healthy food choices, limiting fat intake to 30% or less of daily calories, and watching your portion size
  • Exercise regularly, this allows your body to use sugar without extra insulin

A glucose test is usually performed between 24-28-weeks, which will tell your doctor if you have this, or at risk. While you might be nervous about the effects it could have on you and your baby, know that this is highly manageable. Your medical team will put together a special plan for you to ensure you have a happy healthy pregnancy and baby. Many women donít even know they are risks, or have gestational diabetes because there usually are no symptoms. If you notice any of the following please call you doctor and schedule a visit.

SYMPTOMS:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Weight loss in spite of increased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Frequent infections including those of the bladder, vagina, and skin
  • Blurred vision

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