Few people realize that there are several different types of diabetes. It’s possible to develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Thankfully, it usually resolves after delivery, but it does put them at a higher risk of developing type-2 diabetes later in her life.
The scary part of this condition is that it can affect the infant’s health both in the womb and long-term. Due to the risks involved, expectant mothers must be under constant medical care to prevent this issue. Prevention is the key but arming yourself with knowledge is the place to begin.
If you’re pregnant, may become pregnant, or have a wife or loved one expecting, then you need to understand gestational diabetes and how to manage it.
Understanding Gestational Diabetes
If you should develop this condition while pregnant, then you want to do everything you can to protect the child in the womb. When sugar levels are above average during the pregnancy, it only increases the chances of the infant being born preterm. Actually, the highest risk comes when the mother develops this condition before 24 weeks, according to the National Institute of Health.
These babies are also more susceptible to conditions like jaundice, breathing complications, and low blood sugar at birth. Women most at risk include those that are overweight or who don’t stay physically fit during pregnancy. Additional hazards include those with high blood pressure, who have had this condition in previous pregnancies or have heart disease.
The key is to get treatment as soon as possible to keep both the mother and child safe from harm.
8 Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes
Roughly one out of ten women will develop this condition or ten percent. Doctors are concerned about this form of diabetes when a woman presents with the following symptoms:
- An increased or unusual thirst
- Frequent trips to the restroom to urinate
- High levels of glucose in the urine
- Frequent UTI or bladder infections
- Skin infections
- Vaginal infection
It can be difficult to distinguish if these are typical pregnancy symptoms or if they’re caused by gestational diabetes. Since this is a significant risk, it’s essential to monitor blood sugar levels during these nine months. If a doctor suspects diabetes, then they will do a glucose monitoring test.
Drinking a potent, sugary liquid will see how the body handles the excess of sugar. The mother’s glucose levels will be checked at various intervals to see if the sugar elevates to dangerous levels. If the blood sugar goes into an unacceptable range, then gestational diabetes will be diagnosed.
What Triggers This Form of Diabetes?
Sugar is a form of energy used by the body. The pancreas works hard to create insulin that helps turn this sugar into fuel, and it also establishes the metabolism. The placenta is rich in hormones, and these hormones can block insulin production, which prevents the body from regulating glucose levels.
When insulin production is blocked, the glucose levels in the blood rise to dangerous levels. These high sugar levels will damage the organs, blood vessels, and nerves inside the body. Sadly, the high sugar levels might resolve after pregnancy, but the organ and other damage are permanent.
Identifying Risk Factors
Some women have a more severe threat of developing this form of diabetes than others. Those with the most significant risks include:
1. Older Mothers
Being pregnant over 30 increases the chance of developing diabetes, among other complications. Though women choose to have babies later in life, it also raises more concern when a woman is between the ages of 30-35 or over. The advanced age of the mother increases the chances of down syndrome, lower birth weight, stillborn babies, and others, according to a study published by the New York Times.
Family history plays a huge role in medical issues. When it comes to diabetes, it tends to run in families. If a parent of the expectant mother has diabetes, then her chances of developing this condition are higher. Additionally, if the mother suffered from this condition in an earlier pregnancy, then she may have it in her subsequent ones.
3. Overweight Women
Anytime an expectant mother has a BMI that is over 30, it increases the chances of complications. Diabetes causes women to gain weight during pregnancy, which will only increase the risks. The production of insulin is hampered by carrying extra weight on the body, and it can drive sugar levels to unsafe ranges.
4. Present Medical Conditions
When there are preexisting medical conditions before the pregnancy, then it increases the chances of developing this form of diabetes. One group of ladies at the highest risk is those that have PCOS. This condition causes a hormonal imbalance in the body that causes metabolic syndrome, increasing the chances of complications during pregnancy and delivery.
Abdominal fat is a risk factor that has a significant bearing on diabetes. It’s primarily a considerable risk in the first trimester as this is usually when this condition develops.
6. Women Placed on Bed Rest
If there are issues during the pregnancy that cause a lady to be put on bed rest, it increases the risk of developing diabetes. During bed rest, it’s common to put on weight from being sedentary, making it easier to develop this condition.
7. Previous Diagnoses of Pre-diabetes
When a lady has elevated glucose levels before pregnancy, it puts her at an increased risk of developing diabetes during these nine months. Though cravings are hard to control during pregnancy, they can help keep diabetes at bay when a lady eats a healthy diet.
8. Twin or Triplet Pregnancies
Anytime a mother is carrying more than one fetus, it increases the risks of her developing gestational diabetes. It’s imperative to eat enough nutrition to feed all the babies, but making healthy selections may keep this condition at bay.
Complications from Gestational Diabetes
The effects that diabetes has on the fetus can be long-term. In fact, they may have complications that follow them throughout life. It’s not uncommon for the child to develop lifelong illnesses due to the high levels of sugar they were exposed to in the womb.
Treatment is the best option to keep the fetus’s risks lowered, as it can affect the overall health and wellbeing of the child. Here are the most observed complications of pregnancy-related diabetes:
- Baby can have low blood sugar at birth
- Delivery complications
- Breastfeeding difficulties
- Baby growth is abnormal in the womb (macrosomia)
- Pale skin
- Increased risk of the child developing diabetes in life
- Mother may have increased sugar levels after delivery
- Baby can have respiratory issues
- Mother can develop blood cancer called polycythemia
- Intrauterine growth restrictions
- Placental insufficiency
It’s imperative to monitor glucose levels during pregnancy and after delivery. The most significant assistance that a mother can provide is changing her lifestyle to accommodate the baby and her body’s needs. The key is to get up and move, even on those days when she feels like staying in bed.
Exercise is a powerful weapon against diabetes, and it can help to reverse high glucose levels in the body. On top of exercising as much as possible, it’s also essential to monitor your blood sugar levels. A pregnant mother with diabetes or elevated glucose levels should be checking her blood sugar at least four times a day, if not more.
While there are some invasive techniques to lower blood sugar, plenty of natural substances can do this without side effects. Chia seeds are known to lower blood glucose levels, and according to Medical News Today, they are perfectly safe to consume during pregnancy.
Some say that consuming chia or flax seeds is the equivalent of natural insulin. The good news is that there are little to no side effects, and the price is very affordable.
Final Thoughts on Gestational Diabetes
There’s something so wonderful about being an expectant mother. Carrying a child inside the womb and feeling it grow and develop into a baby is memorable. However, some complications can arise during this process, one of which is gestational diabetes.
Rather than leaving things to time and chance, those who are at a higher risk should be proactive. Eating a healthy diet full of fiber and protein, as well as getting plenty of exercise, may help keep this condition at bay. It’s not a bad habit to monitor blood sugar levels during pregnancy either.
Finally, working with an excellent medical team, getting glucose tolerance tests periodically, and staying healthy is the best way to decrease the chances of complications like diabetes.