What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs in pregnant women, usually during their second trimester. It is caused by an increase in blood sugar levels during pregnancy that return to normal levels soon after giving birth. It is caused when the body is unable to develop enough insulin, a hormone required by the body to control and regulate blood sugar levels. This causes your blood sugar levels to increase drastically when you eat. This condition is called hyperglycaemia. 5 to 10% women run the risk of continuing to suffer from type 2 diabetes even after child birth and up to 50% run the risk of getting type 2 diabetes within 10 years of their pregnancy. The reason why gestational diabetes is such a major concern is because it increases the chances of having complications during the pregnancy.

Symptoms

The symptoms of gestational diabetes are pretty subtle and can easily be misunderstood as the normal side effects of pregnancy. For example, the need to pee frequently or frequent tiredness are experienced by most pregnant women, but are also signs of gestational diabetes.  Some of the other clear indications include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Numbness and/or tingling felt in the hands and feet
  • Feeling excessively thirsty
  • Bruises or wounds healing at a very slow rate

These symptoms are very similar to those experienced in a normal case of diabetes.

Causes

Gestational diabetes is a concern amongst new mothers as it can result in complication for both the baby and the mother. Some of the main causes of this condition are:

  1. Being Overweight or Obese – If you are overweight before the pregnancy, chances of you getting gestational diabetes are much higher. Also if you put on weight during pregnancy at a faster rate than normal, the risk of acquiring diabetes is high. Gaining weight during pregnancy is common, but the way you put it on and in which manner has its consequences.
  2. Hereditary – If you have an immediate family member that has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, your chances of suffering from diabetes increases. This includes a sibling, father, mother and grandparents.
  3. Age – Age plays a very big factor in a healthy pregnancy. Your twenties is the prime time to get pregnant and avoid any form of complications. However, you can also have a healthy pregnancy in your 30s and 40s if you take the necessary precautions. Any time after 25 years of age, you can be a target to getting gestational diabetes. You can also get this type of diabetes if you suffered from it in your previous pregnancy or gave birth to a still born earlier.
  4. PCOS – This stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, a condition where you develop cysts on your ovaries that affect your menstruation cycle making it unpredictable. PCOS impacts your body in many ways, right from increased body and facial hair to increased chances of infertility. If you have a history of PCOS, you’re very likely to develop gestational diabetes while pregnant.

Treatment

Treatment of gestational diabetes is solely in the hands of the mother. During pregnancy, a woman is in a very fragile state. The number one method of treatment recommended is ‘better lifestyle’. Once diagnosed, the first thing that you must do is visit a nutritionist who can recommend you a diet that is high in nutrients, protein, calcium and vitamins. The erratic level of sugar in the blood can be controlled through healthy eating habits. If there is no change in the sugar levels of the mother, she can be recommended clyburide tablets or insulin. It is necessary that you take medical advice and supervision from a professional before using any form of medication, as when pregnant, your body is going through a number of changes and what may be okay to use before you were pregnant may not be suitable for you during pregnancy.