Protect yourself against gestational diabetes

  • By Team TDO

Women, who are planning to have a baby, or are expecting one, should make sure that they get in shape. Gestational diabetes is more likely to occur if you are overweight or have a family history of diabetes or a previous history of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM). Let's understand it further.

What is gestational diabetes?

It's a state or type of diabetes when a woman's glucose level remains high during pregnancy.

What causes gestational diabetes?

Insulin helps your body use glucose for energy and helps in controlling blood glucose levels. During pregnancy the body can't make enough insulin leading to rise in glucose levels.

The reason the body can't produce enough insulin is the placenta. Hormones produced by the placenta (the cord connecting mother to the baby) hinder the action of insulin leading to "insulin resistance". As the pregnancy progresses, the placenta produces more hormones leading to more insulin resistance. Usually pancreas produces more insulin to deal with insulin resistance. However, if the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin, sugar level rises, causing gestational diabetes.

What increases the risk of getting gestational diabetes?

  1. Overweight and obesity before pregnancy.
  2. Stress.
  3. Prediabetes, meaning your blood glucose level is higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes.
  4. Family history of diabetes (if your parents or siblings have diabetes).
  5. History of gestational diabetes in previous pregnancies.
  6. Age above 35.

What are the symptoms of gestational diabetes?

Usually there are no symptoms. Or, the prevailing symptoms are mild and not life threatening for the mother and the child. Symptoms of gestational diabetes include the following:

  1. Frequent infections, including those of the bladder, vagina and skin.
  2. Increased thirst, urination, nausea, vomiting and fatigue.
  3. Weight loss despite increased appetite.
  4. Blurred vision.

How is gestational diabetes detected?

During the 24-28th week of pregnancy, it is advised that pregnant women get Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) done. By doing this GDM can be detected well in time.

How does gestational diabetes affect pregnancy?

Gestational diabetes can cause the baby's pancreas to produce additional insulin. As a result, the baby grows too large and is overweight, which increases the risk of injuries and complications during delivery. C-section may be required. The baby may also develop diabetes in later life.

What can one do to avoid gestational diabetes??

  1. Eat a well-planned balanced diet.
  2. Avoid sugary snacks.
  3. Exercise helps keep blood glucose in check. Do 30 minutes of exercise such as swimming or walking daily.
  4. Check blood sugar levels regularly.

Do treatments for gestational diabetes work?

According to a research published in the journal Diabetes Care, "the good news is that even if you have GDM, women can have a normal weighing baby, if their blood-glucose levels are kept in control under the clinical supervision".

So, if you are in the sixth month of your pregnancy, don't miss out on getting the OGTT done, and take the necessary precautions in case GDM is detected. Till then, the least you can do is to follow a healthy diet routine with regular exercise after consulting a doctor.

The best way to improve your diet is by eating a variety of healthy foods. You should learn how to read food labels, and check them before buying something. Talk to your doctor or dietitian if you are a vegetarian or on some other special diet. After all, a good mom is ever ready to fight against the army of risks and dangers marching towards her baby.