Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. It may cause many health problems, including a 50 percent chance of women developing type 2 diabetes within five to 10 years after delivery.
What Is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes develops in pregnant women who have high blood sugar levels, as the body is unable to make and utilize the insulin during pregnancy. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that helps keep your blood sugar levels from getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia).
While the hormones from the placenta support the baby’s growth, they also cause insulin resistance in a mother’s body—which is why the body requires three times more insulin to utilize the glucose in the blood during pregnancy, causing hyperglycemia.
Symptoms Of Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes has the following symptoms:
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Blurred vision
- Frequent bladder, vaginal and skin infections
- Weight loss, despite increased appetite
How Does It Affect Your Baby?
If you have gestational diabetes, your baby could be at an increased risk of:
1. Macrosomia (Excessive Birth Weight)
Excessive glucose in your bloodstream could force the baby’s pancreas to create excessive insulin, causing weight gain and increasing your chances of having a C-section birth.
Bigger babies might get injured during a vaginal delivery and suffer from Shoulder dystocia (when the anterior shoulder of the baby gets stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone during delivery).
2. Early Birth & Respiratory Distress Syndrome
Gestational diabetes can put you at risk of developing preeclampsia (a condition that occurs in late pregnancy, causing a sudden increase in blood pressure) and might result in an early delivery.
Babies born before their due date have weak and underdeveloped lungs and might develop respiratory distress syndrome (a condition that makes breathing difficult).
3. Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)
Excessive insulin in the baby’s body may cause its blood sugar levels to fall (hypoglycemia). You might need to breastfeed right after delivery to get glucose into the baby’s system. If you can’t breastfeed, the baby might receive glucose through a thin, plastic tube externally.
Gestational diabetes could make your baby susceptible to infections and diseases such as jaundice, making his eyes and skin turn yellow. However, jaundice is common in newborns and is treatable if handled on time.
5. Low Magnesium & Calcium Levels
Gestational diabetes also leads to low magnesium and calcium levels in the baby, which can cause muscle spasms or cramps.
6. Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes
Babies of mothers who’ve had gestational diabetes are at an increased risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes later on in life.
Managing Gestational Diabetes
Your doctor will prescribe medicines depending on your blood sugar levels. If the levels are too high, the doctor may suggest insulin shots. However, you can also keep them in control by:
1. Checking Your Blood Sugar Levels Regularly: An important aspect of managing gestational diabetes is to check your blood sugar levels at home every day using a glucometer.
2. Doing Moderate Exercise: Low impact exercises such as walking or swimming are particularly helpful for pregnant women. Experts recommend two and a half hours of moderate exercise every week to a healthy pregnant woman.
3. Going For Regular Check-Ups: Doctors monitor fetal growth and check for pregnancy complications that may arise due to gestational diabetes and might prescribe health supplements or medicines to manage them.
4. Practicing Yoga: Ayurveda and yoga can be beneficial in managing diabetes and its symptoms. Read on to know more about the natural ways to manage it.
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