Diabetes diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy (gestation) is known as gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes, like other kinds of diabetes, affects the way cells use sugar (glucose).
High blood sugar levels caused by gestational diabetes can harm your pregnancy and affect the health of your baby.
Blood glucose levels in women with this disease usually return to normal shortly after birth. If you’ve had gestational diabetes, though, you’re at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. You will now have to be checked for glucose fluctuations more often.
CAUSES OF GESTATIONAL DIABETES
Insulin is a hormone secreted in the pancreas that regulates the body’s ability to digest fats and carbohydrates and aids in the conversion of sugar into energy. Gestational diabetes happens when hormones from the placenta prevent the insulin from effectively absorbing the increased blood glucose level during pregnancy.
It causes hyperglycemia (abnormally high blood sugar levels), which can harm neurons, blood vessels, and organs. Gestational diabetes increases your chance of high blood pressure and preeclampsia, a serious condition of pregnancy that produces high blood pressure and other symptoms that can endanger both the mother and the baby’s life. Some of the other problems include:
- Fetal Macrosomia, a condition in which the baby born is larger than the average babies i.e., more than 4 kgs)
- Polyhydramnios, a condition where there is an increase in the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby)
- Increased chances and risk of surgical delivery or C-section due to the large weight of the baby
- Stillbirth, due to improper or poor blood flow and circulation for the baby.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF GESTATIONAL DIABETES
The majority of women with gestational diabetes have no symptoms, although some may suffer the following:
- Extreme and unusual levels of thirst.
- Frequent urination in large amounts.
- Often feeling hungry (more than usual).
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Infections in bladder or vagina.
It is usually quite challenging to detect gestational diabetes as some of the above mentioned symptoms are common and normal happenings of pregnancy phase. Gestational diabetes in a majority of people is usually detected through the amount of sugar present in the urine which will be detected through the regular tests that are taken during pregnancy.
RISK FACTORS OF GESTATIONAL DIABETES
The following factors increase the risk of gestational diabetes in some women:
-Increased maternal age.
-Being overweight before becoming pregnant or gaining more weight than usual while being pregnant.
-A Lack of physical activity.
-Having experienced gestational diabetes or prediabetes previously.
-Having insulin resistance related disorders and conditions such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Keratosis Nigricans, etc.
-Previous experience of delivering a baby weighing more than 4 kg.
-Previous experience of unexplained miscarriage or stillbirth.
One should get tested for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. And those who have it, you should continue to test your sugar levels every 1 to 3 years after your baby’s birth. Gestational diabetes, in most cases, gets cured after the birth of the child. If it doesn’t get cured, there is a high chance of it getting developed into type 2 diabetes. That is why for women with gestational diabetes, it is essential to practice a healthy and active lifestyle along with a proper workout and diet in order to prevent type 2 diabetes later.