Gestational diabetes in medical terminology is known as gestational diabetes mellitus. It occurs only in women during their pregnancy and abnormally increases the sugar level in blood. It can even happen to women who do not have any previous record of blood sugar. The blood sugar level usually returns to normal after delivery.
The placenta of a pregnant woman supports the growing foetus and also produces a variety of hormones that help during the time of pregnancy. Sometimes some of these hormones resist the effect of insulin, which in medical terms is known as contra-insulin effect. This effect usually starts showing around the 24th week of pregnancy.
As with time the placenta grows so does the insulin resistance. Mostly, the pancreas is able to produce more insulin to overcome the resistance, but when in certain women the production is not enough, it results in gestational diabetes.
Symptoms of gestational diabetes
Usually there are no symptoms. But if one develops symptoms for gestational diabetes they are similar to pregnancy symptoms, which make it all the more difficult to detect.
Blurred vision - Too much fluid builds up in the retina of the eyes causing blurred vision in pregnant women with gestational diabetes. This is called macular edema. Long-term complications in the vision for women suffering with this ailment are low and moreover, the vision clears up soon after delivery.
Fatigue - Fatigue and tiredness is synonymous with pregnancy. But this might also indicate that the insulin is not able to convert glucose into energy that results in tiredness and fatigue.
Frequent infections - Bladder infection during pregnancy is normal. However, those suffering from gestational diabetes suffer from bladder infection frequently. Also diabetes disrupts the bodyӳ ability to resist infections which results in skin problems, and fungal infections in the vagina.
Increased thirst and urination - Increased urination is a normal sign during pregnancy. Organs shift to make space for the growing uterus, which puts pressure in the bladder. However, diabetes causes the kidneys to work excessively by filtering extra blood. With time the kidneys are unable to function properly which results in leakage of sugar into urine. This gives rise to frequent urination that indicates Gestational diabetes. Also frequent urination dehydrates the body resulting in increased thirst.
Nausea and vomiting- Nausea and vomiting are very often associated with pregnancy. For many, morning sickness too is one and the same with their trimester. However, for some pregnant women nausea is a symptom of gestational diabetes mellitus as well.
Treatment for gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes mellitus should be treated as soon as it gets diagnosed as otherwise it may have some severe effects on the health of the baby.
The goal of treating this ailment is to bring the levels of sugar in the blood back to normal. The various methods of treating gestational diabetes mellitus are:
Meal plan:Check with a certified dietician and design a meal plan that will help choose the food items that are healthy for the mother and the baby. This meal plan should incorporate food items that will help the sugar level reach the target range. One should know in detail which foods to eat, what to avoid, how much to eat, and when to eat.
- Limit sweet intake
- Be aware of how much carbohydrate-rich food to eat. Also know when to eat them.
- Include food items that are rich in fruits, cereals, bread and vegetables.
- Eat three main meals and three snacks every day.
During pregnancy all exercises are not safe and therefore one should know the type of exercises that will suit a pregnant woman.
In addition to the above mentioned ways of managing gestational diabetes, some pregnant women need additional insulin to counter their high glucose levels in the body. Insulin is not harmful for the baby as it does not move from the bloodstream of the mother to the baby's.
Prevention of gestational diabetes
Early prenatal care is recommended. If one is overweight, reduce weight before getting pregnant. This reduces the risk of developing this disease. Also, gestational diabetes tests in the 24th- 28th weeks of pregnancy helps in detecting this ailment early reducing its complications.
Tests for gestational diabetes
There are certain tests that help in diagnosing gestational diabetes mellitus in a woman. These tests need to be taken during the 24th- 28th weeks of pregnancy.
Blood sugar test
A fasting glucose test is one for which the doctor will ask the patient to fast for about eight hours before the test. One may only drink water. Or one may go for a random blood glucose test that can be conducted at any time of the day.
Screening glucose challenge test
For this glucose test one is given a sweet sugary drink and the blood sugar level is checked after an hour. This test can be done several times in a day.
Oral glucose tolerance test
This glucose test will need one to follow certain instructions. One should eat normally for 3 days before this test and then fast for 8 hours before taking the test.