Gestational Diabetes
Pregnancy and Health

Gestational Diabetes: Causes, Symptoms, Risks and Treatment

What are causes of gestational diabetes?

Are you concerned about diabetes in pregnancy?

Does gestational diabetes effect my baby?

All these questions and much more will be answered here in this article.

Gestational Diabetes

What is gestational diabetes?

A pregnant woman later in her pregnancy can become diabetic, such type of diabetes is called as gestational diabetes. The blood sugar level of the some mothers get higher during pregnancy even if they are not diabetic before. Gestational diabetes occurs between weeks 24 to 28. About 2 – 10% of women in United States are diagnosed with gestational diabetes each year.

Types of gestational Diabetes (GD)

There are two types of gestational diabetes which includes:

Class A1: this type of GD can be treated with healthy lifestyle, exercise and healthy diet.

Class A2: it is a little serious type of GD so insulin and medication is required to treat it.

Does gestational diabetes go away after I gave birth?

Yes, it is possible that GD can go away after you gave birth. But there are some risk factors related to your baby’s health and yours. You can develop type 2 diabetes later in life and your baby is also at health risk regarding weight and diabetes.

Causes of Gestational Diabetes

There is not a big list of causes of gestational diabetes as the exact cause of gestational diabetes is still unknown but some research has revealed that placental hormones can cause diabetes during pregnancy.

Insulin is a hormone secreted by pancreas to control the blood sugar level. The food we eat provides us energy because of glucose. Glucose is absorbed by the cells of our body and gives us energy. Insulin, if not produced in enough amounts then the glucose in the blood is not absorbed by the cells and the level of sugar rises in our blood.

During pregnancy, a woman experiences hormonal changes and this can be due to placental hormones.  Due to this reason a woman can develop insulin resistance which means her body cannot effectively use insulin. As a consequence, the body’s need of insulin increases. If not enough insulin is produced then the blood sugar level rises resulting in gestational diabetes.



Symptoms

There are no proper symptoms of GD. A woman with gestational diabetes cannot really identify symptoms as they are similar to pregnancy symptoms. A mother with gestational diabetes can feel:

  • Much thirsty,
  • Frequent urination and,
  • Increased appetite.

Risks of Gestational Diabetes

You can be at a risk of gestation diabetes if:

  • given birth to an extra-large baby weighing more than 9 pounds,
  • you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other heart related complications,
  • family history of diabetes,
  • have gestational diabetes in past,
  • have PCOS,
  • had a miscarriage or stillbirth case in past,
  • have gained more weight than normal during pregnancy,
  • you are over 25 years

Diagnosis

Your doctor will test your sugar levels during pregnancy to know if your sugar level is in normal range or not. The following is a chart which explains how much blood sugar level is normal for a pregnant woman.

Blood sugar level in Pregnancy

The American Diabetes Association recommended targets for pregnant women for their blood sugar levels
Before a meal95 mg/dL or less
An hour after a meal140 mg/dL or less
Two hours after a meal120 mg/dL or less

Health related problems of mother and child after and before delivery

Having gestational diabetes during pregnancy can cause some health problems to you and your baby. These health concerns are:

  • an extra-large baby: your baby can weigh more than 9 pounds
  • C -Section delivery: due to the large size of the baby a C-Section becomes necessary
  • your baby can be born early hence known as immature and can have breathing problems
  • Type 2 diabetes in later life of both mother and child
  • High blood pressure during pregnancy is also observed in mothers with gestational diabetes

Treatment of Gestational Diabetes

The treatment of gestational diabetes is possible. It can be achieved by mothers if they follow what their doctor guide them to do so. You should not miss any of your prenatal appointments and also follow the following steps to make sure you have a healthy pregnancy:

  • Monitor your baby growth and development at every prenatal checkup appointment
  • Check your blood sugar levels to make sure they are in healthy range
  • Take a balanced and healthy diet and if your dietitian or doctor have given you a diet plan then do follow it
  • Try to be active during pregnancy and a walk will help the most. As walking briskly can lower your blood sugar levels.

If your sugar levels are still not in control then your doctor can prescribe you insulin, metformin or other type of medication which can lower your blood sugar level.

Prevention

Well, prevention is not always possible but if you try to keep right body conditions through a healthy diet and exercise, and don’t put on extra weight and stay active then it is possible that you have lowered your risk of GD.

What can I eat in gestational diabetes?

The following chart will help you in creating a diet plan and understanding what you can eat.

Sources

American Diabetes Association: “Gestational Diabetes,” “What is Gestational Diabetes?”

CDC: “Gestational Diabetes and Pregnancy,” “Gestational Diabetes.”

Mayo Clinic: “Gestational diabetes.”

WebMD: “Diabetes: Gestational Diabetes.”

Healthline: “Health: Gestational Diabetes.”

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