Pregnancy is by far the most magical experience a woman could be part of! But as you look forward to the special day when you will hold your baby in your arms, your body is going through several changes. Expanding belly and weight gain, enlarged uterus, morning sickness, fatigue, and backaches might be the least of your problems when there can be a serious risk factor involved! Can you be suffering from gestational diabetes and not know it? According to the American Pregnancy Association, 2 – 5% of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes and 7-9% of those mothers are more likely to have risk factors.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy in women who don’t already have it. Also known as glucose intolerance or carbohydrate intolerance, gestational diabetes is a temporary (in most cases) form of diabetes in which the body does not produce sufficient amounts of insulin to regulate sugar during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes does possess some health risks to both the pregnant woman and the fetus which include:
- Newborn baby to be overweight
- Premature birth
- Low blood sugar levels in a newborn baby
- Increased blood pressure in pregnant women
- High risk of women developing preeclampsia during pregnancy
Early gestational diabetes symptoms
Dry Mouth/Feeling Thirsty: You may feel thirsty and want to drink a lot more water than you usually do. Feeling thirsty even when you haven’t consumed anything salty, not been out on a hot day, or done anything exhaustive that would make you want an extra glass of water.
Feeling Tired/Fatigue: If you feel exhausted, or tired even early in the day, it may be more than the strain of being pregnant that’s causing feel so drained!
Blurred vision: The most noticeable yet less common symptom of gestational diabetes is blurred vision. Fortunately, gestational symptoms typically are reversible once sugar levels have been corrected post-pregnancy.
Frequent Urination: Most expecting mothers need to pee frequently, but urinating every single hour of the day, including throughout the night, can be considered as a common red flag! A dramatic increase in urination (known as Polyuria) can also be a sign of high blood sugar.
Testing & Treatment
According to the CDC, Gestational diabetes usually develops around the 24th week of pregnancy, so you can expect to be tested between 24 and 28 weeks. During this time the placenta produces large amounts of hormones that may cause insulin resistance. If the test results indicate elevated levels, further testing would be done to confirm a gestational diabetes diagnosis.
The primary treatment for gestational diabetes is controlling your blood sugar levels. There are steps your doctor can recommend in order to ensure you maintain healthy blood sugar levels:
- Monitoring you and your baby closely, to keep a check on your baby’s growth and development
- Self-monitoring of blood sugar, to ensure your levels stay in a healthy range
- Gestational diet plan and exercise management
- Insulin therapy, if necessary
Although there are no guarantees when it comes to preventing gestational diabetes — the more healthy habits you choose to adopt before pregnancy, the better! If you’ve had gestational diabetes, choices like eating healthy foods and keeping active may reduce your risk of having it again in future pregnancies or developing type 2 diabetes in the future.