- Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy, caused by hormonal changes in the body.
- Risk factors for gestational diabetes include being overweight/obese, having a family history of diabetes, or having PCOS.
- Screening for gestational diabetes is done through scans and blood tests to detect and monitor levels.
- Treatment includes healthy eating, regular exercise, insulin injections, monitoring blood sugar at home, and self-care.
- With proper care and management, gestational diabetes can be managed efficiently to ensure a healthy pregnancy for both mother and baby.
Pregnancy is a unique and magical experience that every woman looks forward to, but it also comes with challenges. One of the challenges many women face during their pregnancy is gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. This condition affects between 2-10% of expectant mothers, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Although gestational diabetes can be alarming, there are several things that you can do to help manage it effectively and ensure a healthy pregnancy. Here’s everything you need to know about gestational diabetes and the steps you can take to stay healthy.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. It is caused by hormonal changes that result in insulin resistance. Usually, insulin helps regulate your body’s blood sugar levels, but when you’re insulin resistant, your body can’t use insulin effectively, leading to high blood sugar levels. This condition can affect both the mother and the baby, causing long-term health complications if not controlled.
Risk Factors for Gestational Diabetes
The risk factors for gestational diabetes are similar to those for Type 2 diabetes. Some risk factors include being overweight or obese, having a family history of diabetes, being over 25, and having had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy. Additionally, women with PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) are more likely to develop gestational diabetes.
Screening for Gestational Diabetes
The first screening step for gestational diabetes is knowing whether you’re pregnant. An accurate ultrasound scan service can help you with this. They can identify the first stages of conception and even the gender of your baby. Once you’ve found out that you’re pregnant, your doctor may recommend screening for gestational diabetes with a glucose test.
If the results come back positive, your doctor will likely order an oral glucose tolerance test to confirm the diagnosis and monitor any changes in blood sugar levels over time.
There are various ways to treat this disease. Here are some of them:
Gestational diabetes is diagnosed through blood tests. This simple test measures the blood sugar levels after fasting and after having a sugary drink. Diagnosis is crucial as it enables the healthcare team to develop a plan for managing the condition.
The first line of treatment is healthy eating and regular exercise. This treatment can regulate blood sugar levels in the mother and baby. Healthy eating should include complex carbohydrates and fiber-rich foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Exercise, on the other hand, helps the body process sugar more efficiently.
For some women, a healthy diet and exercise may not be sufficient to control blood sugar levels. Therefore, insulin injections may be prescribed. Insulin treatment can be intimidating for some, but healthcare professionals can guide patients on administering the injections, usually done subcutaneously (under the skin).
Blood Sugar Monitoring
Regular home monitoring of blood sugar levels is essential for women with gestational diabetes. Patients can use finger-prick blood tests to help monitor their blood sugar levels. This monitoring helps keep the glucose levels stable to prevent health complications like high blood pressure, polyhydramnios, or macrosomia.
Women with gestational diabetes should know how to take care of themselves. Self-care includes healthy eating, regular exercise, and regular checkups with a healthcare provider. Individual patients should work with their healthcare team to develop a plan that works for them and helps manage gestational diabetes.
Managing Gestational Diabetes
The good news is that gestational diabetes can also be managed. Diet and exercise are crucial to controlling blood sugar levels. Your doctor will recommend a healthy diet tailored to your needs and advise you on how much weight gain is healthy.
Exercise should also be an integral part of your routine. Physical activity helps your body use insulin more effectively, improves blood sugar control, and helps control weight gain. You must follow your doctor’s recommendations and log your blood sugar levels.
Medications for Gestational Diabetes
Sometimes, diet and exercise alone may not control gestational diabetes. In these cases, your doctor may prescribe medication to help control blood sugar levels. Several medications can be used during pregnancy to lower blood sugar levels that are safe for both mother and baby. Depending on your specific needs, your doctor will prescribe the best medication for you.
Gestational diabetes may sound scary, but with the proper care and management, you can have a healthy pregnancy and baby. Staying on top of your blood sugar levels and exercising regularly is essential. If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, follow your healthcare provider’s instructions and attend all your regular prenatal care appointments. With the proper care and management, gestational diabetes can be easily managed, ensuring a healthy pregnancy for mom and baby.