30 September 2013
What is Gestational Diabetes? / Qu'est-ce que le Diabète Gestationnel?
Gestational diabetes affects a small percentage of pregnant women. Women with this condition experience elevated blood sugar levels for the first time during their pregnancy, which drops back to its regular levels after delivery. However, this increase in glucose levels is not good for the baby and the mother faces the risk of developing diabetes.
Cause for gestational diabetes
Your pancreas produces insulin which is vital for regulating your blood glucose levels and storing the excess sugar in your system. During pregnancy, especially once you've crossed the half-way mark, your body needs more insulin for your baby's needs. But when your body fails to produce sufficient insulin to maintain your blood sugar levels, you run the risk of developing gestational diabetes.
Identifying the symptoms
The symptoms for gestational diabetes are often overlooked or neglected as common side effects of the pregnancy itself. In many cases, this type of diabetes is said to take effect without any visible signs or symptoms. But you should be alert to fatigue, blurry vision, constant thirst and excessive urine output.
You are likely to be given a glucose tolerance test at the beginning of your last trimester or as determined by your doctor based on your case history. This test could also be skipped depending on your age (if you are below 25 years), family history, ethnicity (as some are less prone to contracting gestational diabetes), BMI and other factors.
Effects of gestational diabetes on your pregnancy
The increased level of blood sugar in your body can be passed onto your baby. This increases the chances of your baby growing too large for comfort and resulting in a caesarean section. Your baby too could be adversely affected by the hike in your sugar levels as he could develop medical conditions such as jaundice or low blood sugar after birth.
The level of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby too could be compromised for mothers-to-be diagnosed with gestational diabetes, which makes diabetes monitoring on a regular basis necessary.
Factors that contribute towards gestational diabetes
You should watch your sugar levels and anticipate a possible recurrence if you've already suffered from gestational diabetes during an earlier pregnancy. Other factors that could also contribute towards it include higher body mass index and family history of diabetes.
In most cases, gestational diabetes can be treated by eating right and getting enough exercise. Insulin booster shots or oral medication is suggested for those unable to manage their sugar levels through diet and exercise.