While being pregnant might be the most magical time of your life, your body needs every bit of attention and care it can possibly get! Giving birth to another living being does exhaust your body and can take a toll on your health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 10% of pregnant women are diagnosed with gestational diabetes midway through their pregnancies. Most of them are surprised by the diagnosis since they feel the same way that they’ve always felt: healthy and normal!
During pregnancy, some women develop high blood sugar levels which can be classified as gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) or gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that affects only pregnant women, typically developing between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy. Diabetes can be particularly hard on pregnant women as it can affect both the mother and her unborn child. 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. Although gestational diabetes is hard to get noticed, as it’s rare to cause symptoms. But If you do experience symptoms, they’ll likely be mild, including:
- Feeling extreme fatigue and lethargy
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Dry mouth and constant thirst
- Feeling nauseated after eating
- Strong cravings for sweet foods and drinks
- Blurred vision
- Tingling in the hands or feet
As these signs may just be the typical symptoms of pregnancy, any woman experiencing new or unusual symptoms during pregnancy is advised to speak to her doctor. The doctor may be able to determine whether she has developed gestational diabetes by screening tests for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks into the pregnancy. Women with a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes may need frequent testing. Higher risk factors include:
- Have had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy.
- Is overweight or obese.
- Have African American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Hispanic, or a Pacific Islander ancestry.
- Have a close family member with type 2 diabetes, or you have prediabetes.
- Age of conception (Being more than 25).
- Multiple pregnancies.
How can you prevent gestational diabetes?
According to the research conducted by the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, Germany, women with a BMI of 25 or above can make dietary changes to reduce the risk of gestational diabetes. Although gestational diabetes may not always be preventable due to its lack of symptoms, some steps that a pregnant woman can take to reduce the risk of developing this condition include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight before pregnancy
- Eating a balanced diet
- Exercising regularly
- Getting regular health checkups during pregnancy
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a balanced weight, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly can help women avoid developing gestational diabetes or reduce the risk of other complications in their pregnancies. Your doctor may prescribe insulin, metformin, or other medication if need be, for you to have a healthy and safe pregnancy!