Gestational Diabetes: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment
Know the basics
1. What is gestational diabetes?
This is a type of diabetes that develops only during pregnancy around the 24th week. Gestational diabetes affects how your cells use sugar (glucose) and causes high blood sugar; of course, the amount of glucose in your blood is not good for you or your baby.
In gestational diabetes, your blood sugar usually returns to normal soon after delivery. But if you’ve had gestational diabetes, you’re at risk for type 2 diabetes. You’ll continue working with your doctor to monitor and manage your blood sugar.
It is advisable for women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes are thinking about having a baby, you should talk with your doctor before you get pregnant. Untreated or poorly controlled diabetes can cause serious problems for your baby.
2. How common is gestational diabetes?
One of the most common pregnancy complications, gestational diabetes affects one in 10 expectant women, it occurs more often among obese women. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
3. What are the symptoms of gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes doesn’t usually cause any symptoms. Most cases are only picked up when your blood sugar level is tested during screening for gestational diabetes.
Some women may develop symptoms if their blood sugar level gets too high, such as:
- You often feel thirsty;
- You need to pee usually than usual;
- Your mouth is dry;
- You feel tired.
But some of these symptoms are common during pregnancy anyway and aren’t necessarily a sign of diabetes problem. Speak to your doctor if you’re worried about any symptoms you’re experiencing.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
Diagnosis and Treatments
1. How is gestational diabetes diagnosed?
During your first antenatal appointment at around 8-12th weeks of the pregnancy, to determine if you are at risk of gestational diabetes, your doctor will ask you some questions. In case that you have one or more risk factors, the screening test will be offered, this includes:
Initial glucose challenge test
- You’ll drink a syrupy glucose solution, then you’ll have a blood test to measure the blood sugar level one hour later.
- A blood sugar level below 130 to 140 (mg/dL), or 7.2 to 7.8 (mmol/L), is usually considered normal on a glucose challenge test.
- If your blood sugar level is higher than normal, it only means you have a higher risk of gestational diabetes. You’ll need a glucose tolerance test to determine if you have this condition.
Follow-up glucose tolerance testing
- You’ll fast overnight, then have your blood sugar level measured. Then you’ll drink another sweet solution, containing a higher concentration of glucose.
- Your blood sugar level will be checked every hour for three hours.
- If at least two of the blood sugar readings are higher than normal, you’ll be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
2. How is gestational diabetes treated?
Treating gestational diabetes can help both you and your baby stay healthy. The goal of treatment help you reach your blood glucose targets, including:
- Healthy eating;
- Physical activity: you should do exercise for at least 30 minutes every day and ask your doctor if you may continue some higher intensity sports. Do not exercise on your back after the first trimester;
- Insulin shots, if needed.
1. What causes gestational diabetes?
Insulin is a hormone made in your pancreas, an organ located behind your stomach. This helps your body use glucose for energy and helps control your blood glucose levels. However, in case your body can’t make enough insulin during pregnancy, that will lead to gestational diabetes.
Furthermore, all pregnant women have some insulin resistance during late pregnancy. But some women have insulin resistance even before they get pregnant, usually because they are overweight. These women start pregnancy with an increased need for insulin and are more likely to have gestational diabetes.
2. What increases my risk for gestational diabetes?
There are many risk factors for gestational diabetes, such as:
- Older than 25;
- Have a close relative who has diabetes;
- Overweight, especially BMI is 30 or higher;
- Have polycystic ovarian syndrome;
- Have a medical condition such as glucose intolerance;
- Take certain medications like glucocorticoids (for asthma or an autoimmune disease), beta-blockers (for high blood pressure or a rapid heart rate), or antipsychotic drugs (for mental health problems);
- Have had gestational diabetes before;
- Have had a big baby before.
3. Lifestyle changes & Home remedies
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with gestational diabetes:
- Healthy diets: choose foods high in fiber and low in fat, calories. Also, focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Strive for variety to help you achieve your goals without compromising taste or nutrition. Watch portion sizes.
- Keep active: take a brisk daily walk, ride your bike, swim laps for 30 minutes every day. If you can’t fit a single 30-minute workout into your day, several shorter sessions can be a good choice.
- Lose excess pounds before pregnancy: losing extra weight beforehand may help you have a healthier pregnancy. Motivate yourself by remembering the long-term benefits of losing weight, such as a healthier heart, more energy and improved self-esteem.
Need further information? Contact GO.CARE manage team to get more details from expert doctors and medical specialists.
GO.CARE does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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