Gestational diabetes is the term used to describe diabetes that develops during pregnancy. Both the mother and the child may develop high blood sugar levels as a result. Pregnancy’s second or third trimester is typically when gestational diabetes is discovered.
What Are The Factors Leading To Gestational Diabetes?
There are a number of factors that can increase your risk of developing gestational diabetes, including:
- Being overweight or obese
- Having a family history of diabetes
- Having experienced gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
- Having high blood sugar levels during a previous pregnancy
If you have any of these risk factors, your doctor may recommend that you have a glucose tolerance test during your pregnancy.
This test involves drinking a sugary drink and then having your blood sugar levels checked. You will be deemed to have gestational diabetes if your blood sugar levels are elevated.
Through diet and exercise, gestational diabetes can be controlled. However, some women may also need to take insulin injections. If you have gestational diabetes, it is important to control your blood sugar levels to prevent complications.
Complications Of Gestational Diabetes Include
Pre-eclampsia: This is a condition that can occur during pregnancy, characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine. Pre-eclampsia can lead to serious health problems for both the mother and the baby.
Macrosomia: This is a condition where the baby is larger than average. Macrosomia can lead to complications during childbirth, such as shoulder dystocia (where the baby’s shoulder becomes stuck during delivery).
Birth defects: Gestational diabetes can increase the risk of certain birth defects, such as heart defects and neural tube defects.
If you have gestational diabetes, it is important to see your doctor regularly and to have your blood sugar levels checked. You should also have a glucose tolerance test six to 12 weeks after your baby is born to check for diabetes.
The most common way to test for gestational diabetes is the one-step glucose challenge test. This involves drinking a sugary drink and then having your blood sugar levels tested at one hour, two hours, and three hours after finishing the drink.
You will be asked to complete a second test, known as the oral glucose tolerance test, to determine whether you have gestational diabetes if your blood sugar level is higher than 95 mg/dL (5.3 mmol/L) after an hour.
If your doctor doesn’t want to wait three hours for your results, he or she may ask you to do an early-morning fasting blood glucose test instead of using the GCT. This measures how high your blood sugar level is in the morning before you’ve had anything to eat or drink since going to bed.
Symptoms Of Gestational Diabetes
- Unusual thirstiness: You might find yourself drinking more fluids than usual because your body is trying to make up for the increased glucose in your system by flushing it out through increased urination.
- Frequent urination: Along with increased thirst, you might find yourself needing to go to the bathroom more often.
- Fatigue: Feeling tired and run down is common in pregnancy, but if you’re experiencing extreme fatigue it could be a sign of gestational diabetes.
- Nausea or vomiting: While nausea and vomiting are common in early pregnancy, if you’re experiencing these symptoms and they’re not relieved by eating or drinking, it could be a sign of gestational diabetes.
- Blurred vision: This can be a symptom of high blood sugar levels and is caused by fluid build-up in the lens of the eye.
- Headaches: Headaches are another common symptom of high blood sugar levels.
- Swelling: Swelling in the feet, ankles, and hands is common in pregnancy, but if you’re experiencing excessive swelling it could be a sign of gestational diabetes.
- Sugar in the urine: If you have sugar in your urine, it could be a sign that your blood sugar levels are too high.
- Dry mouth and skin: If you’re experiencing dry mouth or skin, it could be a sign of dehydration due to increased urination.
- Difficulty breathing: This is a rarer symptom, but if you’re having difficulty breathing, it could be a sign of gestational diabetes.
Prevent gestational diabetes
Eat a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet is one of the best ways to prevent gestational diabetes. Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help keep your blood sugar levels in check.
Get regular exercise: Exercise can help your body use insulin more effectively and prevent gestational diabetes.
Quit smoking: Smoking can damage the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas and increase your risk for gestational diabetes.
Monitor your blood sugar levels: If you have any risk factors for gestational diabetes, your doctor may recommend that you monitor your blood sugar levels.