During pregnancy, you might notice a rise in glucose levels of the body which were normal prior to your gestation period. This gradual rise in blood sugar is termed as “Gestational Diabetes”. The signs can be seen at any stage of pregnancy, but are usually noticeable around 24th to 28th week.

Gestational Diabetes occurs when the body is not able to produce enough insulin, a hormone responsible for controlling glucose level in the blood. It develops during the gestation period and usually disappears after it, but the mother and the baby are under health risk. So it is advised to seek a doctor who can help in managing the blood sugar levels in order to reduce the health risks associated with gestational diabetes.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, women in the age group of 20-79 years living with diabetes are estimated to be around 204 million across the world. It is projected to increase by 308 million by 2045. Moreover, the studies revealed that every 1 out of 3 women who had diabetes was of reproductive age. 21.3 million or 16.2 million births were slightly hyperglycemic during pregnancy. It has been observed that, in every 1 out 7 births affected by gestational diabetes. On an average, 85.7% of births are affected by gestational diabetes.

It has been found that a majority of cases related to gestational diabetes or hyperglycemia during pregnancy are often seen in low and middle-income nations. The condition of maternal care is not up to the mark in such countries.

It is important for pregnant women to monitor their blood sugar levels during the gestation period so as to reduce the probable negative outcomes. It is advised to be careful during pregnancy to maintain a healthy body as the increased level of glucose can adversely affect the baby.

What Are The Risks Associated With Gestational Diabetes?

Women suffering from Gestational Diabetes or on the verge of getting diabetes during pregnancy are at risk of certain consequences that include:

  • Women with gestational diabetes are at the risk of developing polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). It is a condition which elevates the level of androgens in the body and invites further complications such as acne, irregular or no menstrual periods at all, heavy periods, pelvic pain, facial hairs etc.
  • Risk of getting overweight and obese increases the chances of strokes.
  • You are at risk of developing gestational diabetes in future pregnancies.
  • Gestational diabetes can affect you in a long run as you’re at risk of developing diabetes mellitus type 2 in future.
  • Older women above 25 years are at greater risk of developing gestational diabetes.
  • Women who have had diabetes in their family history either type 1 or type 2 or those already suffering from prediabetes are more likely to develop gestational diabetes.
  • If your baby weighed more than 4.5 kg or 9 pounds in previous pregnancy, then you are at a probable risk of developing diabetes in the gestation period.
  • You need to monitor your body mass index to maintain a healthy body weight if it is above 30.
  • Ethnicity is also one of the major factors in determining gestational diabetes. You are more likely to develop this condition if you belong to certain ethnic groups like African-Americans, Afro-Caribbeans, Native Americans, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, South Asians.

Additionally, women who smoke have double the risk of developing gestational diabetes mellitus.

Symptoms Of Gestational Diabetes

Women suffering from gestational diabetes may not exhibit any specific symptoms initially but gradually they may demonstrate certain signs which indicate GDM such as:

  • Polydipsia i.e. increased thirst
  • Increased weight or obesity where the BMI(Body Mass Index) is higher than the usual
  • Polyuria i.e. increased urination
  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue
  • A higher level of blood sugar than the normal,often called as hyperglycemia
  • Polyphagia i.e. feeling hungrier than the normal

It is not necessary that these are always a sign of a problem as these are commonly seen during pregnancy. Since women do not show any probable signs of diabetes in particular, it is recommended to seek the advice of an expert in this regard. Also, keep a track of your sugar levels.

How Does Gestational Diabetes Affect Your Pregnancy?

Most women have normal deliveries even after having gestational diabetes. However, it does have some complications during pregnancy including:

  • You may have a baby larger than the normal which invites difficulties at the time of delivery. It may give rise to a need for induced labor or you may need to run for a cesarean section.
  • Polyhydramnios, a condition where the baby is surrounded with too much amniotic fluid in the womb, may cause premature labor or issues at that time.
  • Premature birth
  • Stillbirth which means loss of the baby
  • Pre-eclampsia, a condition that leads to high blood pressure, may invite complications at the time of delivery.
  • Development of low blood sugar and pale skin or jaundice just after the birth is required to be treated at the hospital.

Preventive Measures

According to a review of 2015, it has been observed that including a little physical activity by following an exercise regime can help you cope with gestational diabetes and curb any further issues associated with it.

Additionally, making certain positive changes in your lifestyle can help in avoiding this situation. It is normally advised to stop smoking and drinking at the time of gestation to ensure the birth of a healthy baby.

Managing Gestational Diabetes

Managing gestational diabetes include a number of measures which are broadly classified into two namely: Lifestyle and Medication.

  • Lifestyle

Taking counseling sessions prior to planning pregnancy and multidisciplinary management is advised for best pregnancy outcomes. The inclusion of exercise in the routine life and making certain dietary modifications can help in reducing the glucose level in the body.

Along with this, self-monitoring of blood sugar levels also helps you know the exact pattern of glucose in the body, prior to meal and post meal. This would help in keeping a track of how often does your blood sugar fluctuate.

  • Medication

If monitoring your blood sugar patterns reveal unusual fluctuation even after following a healthy routine, then the need for medication arises. Most often, fast-acting insulin therapies are given to combat the issue of rising blood sugar.

Certain observations have shown that medication through the mouth is safer than injecting insulin. In medication, metformin is considered a better option than glyburide. And in certain cases where sugar levels are not controlled, then a combination of metformin and insulin is considered apt for the condition.

Treatment of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus with a combination of diabetic diet, exercise and insulin is a great way to reduce blood sugar level, thus ensuring the birth of a healthy child. It is important to keep a track of blood sugar until 6 weeks after delivery to confirm whether diabetes has disappeared or not. Moreover, it is advised to get your sugar levels examined to reduce the risk of developing diabetes mellitus Type 2 in future.

So this is all about gestational diabetes. We hope this has proved informative to you.

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