Gestational diabetes is an issue that affects 2%-10% pregnancies each year. The women suffering from it had normal blood sugar levels, that have gotten high during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes does not harm the fetus, and for the woman it usually passes after the pregnancy is ended. It does however increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Most of the time, this condition does not have any noticeable symptoms and the woman only learns about it while doing routine pregnancy screening tests. When it is untreated, gestational diabetes might induce the feeling of thirst and hunger, as well as the need to urinate more often. The hormones produced by placenta during pregnancy are what causes gestational diabetes. Usually this isn’t a problem, as pancreas produces enough insulin to keep the blood sugar in norm.
When this doesn’t happen, the level of glucose grows, leading to gestational diabetes. This condition is more likely to happen to African-Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics and Asians. The risk is also increasted when the woman used to be overweight before pregnancy, is older than 25, has known other people with gestational diabetes, has had gestational diabetes in the past, has high blood pressure, has given birth to a large baby (greater than 9 pounds) and a baby with birth defects or one that was stillborn. Gestational diabetes most often happens in the second half of pregnancy.
First tests are usually made between 24th and 28th week of pregnancy, unless the woman is at high risk, in which case they are done sooner. The first test involves drinking a sugary drink and then after an hour passes, checking the level of blood sugar. If the results are not satisfying, or if the woman is at high risk, more tests will be required. Blood sugar level should not be higher than 130 milligrams per deciliter. When gestational diabetes is diagnosed, in order to treat the condition, the woman will need to check her blood sugar level at least four times per day. It is also important to do urine test that could show if it contains ketones, which would mean that the treatment of diabetes is unseccesful. Exercise and mantaining a proper diet will be necessary.
The woman’s doctor should help her in figuring out what food products and activities should be best in taking care of her health. By the weight the woman gains, the doctor should know if she is in need of taking insuline or not. Though the baby is often born in perfect health, there are a few complications this condition might cause for him or her. Those include high birth weight, early birth, low blood sugar or a risk of developing type 2 diabetes in later life. On of the most serious complications is the respiratory distress syndrome. However the baby is not the only one who is at risk of complications, as those might also happen to the mother. Because of gestational diabetes, there is a higher chance that there will be a need for undergoing the c-section. The woman might also be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes in a future pregnancy.
Other complications include high blood pressure and preeclampsia. In order to prevent gestational diabetes, the woman should mantain a healthy and low-sugar diet. It is recommended to follow a diet made for someone with diabetes. Sweets such as cookies, candy and ice-cream can be replaced with more healthy products like fruits, carrots and raisins. The diet should also contain vegetables and whole grains. The portions should be kept relatively small. Another step to preventing gestational diabetes is to exercise and lose weight before becoming pregnant. It is better to lose weight before than during the pregnancy, and lower weight can make the pregnancy overall healthier. However, exercise throughout pregnancy is also highly recommended. 30 minutes per day few times in a week is a good amount of time to spend on exercise during pregnancy. Good ideas for it are long walks, swimming, biking or running. No matter the lifestyle, it is always important to follow the doctor’s advice and get appropriate prenatal care.