What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that affects women during pregnancy. Just like any other types, gestational diabetes means your blood glucose (aka blood sugar) is abnormally high.

Excessive amount of glucose in your bloodstream while pregnant can likely pose a threat not only to you but also to your baby.

In most cases, this pregnancy-related condition is diagnosed during late pregnancy.

If you’re diagnosed with the disease on your first trimester, chances are you already had the disease prior to your pregnancy.

Once you find out that you have GD, it’s important that you take the necessary course of action recommended by your obstetrics and gynecology team to avoid life-threatening complications.

Common Causes

GD occurs when your body is incapable of producing enough insulin while you’re pregnant.

Insulin is a hormone produced by the beta cells in your pancreas. It is a hormone that helps your body utilize glucose for energy.

While conceiving, your body releases more hormones and therefore experiences a few changes like weight gain.

These changes disable the ability of the body’s cells to make use of your insulin effectively—a condition called insulin resistance.

Most pregnant women experience insulin resistance during late pregnancy. However, others may already have insulin resistance even before they got pregnant because they are overweight.

Gestational Diabetes

Risk Factors

You are at a higher risk for developing GD if you:

  • Are overweight
  • Have had GD previously
  • Have polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS
  • Have a family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Have previously given birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds

Diagnosis

GM is usually diagnosed through blood tests.

  • Screening Glucose Challenge Test

This involves drinking a sugary beverage and having your sugar level checked after one hour. If the results show above normal sugar level, your doctor may recommend that you take an oral glucose tolerance test.

  • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test

Prior to the test, you will be instructed by a healthcare provider to fast for at least eight hours.

Before the test starts, your fasting blood glucose level will be recorded. After, you will drink a sugary drink. Your sugar level will be checked again one hour or three hours after. The result of this test will determine whether or not you have gestational diabetes.

Its Effect to the Mother

GD increases your chance of developing other serious conditions such as preeclampsia (a condition marked by hypertension and proteinuria.)

Its Effect to the Baby

Untreated GD can potentially harm your baby. Some possible conditions that may affect your baby due to gestational diabetes include:

  • Respiratory distress syndrome (hyaline membrane disease) – a breathing problem in premature newborns.
  • Macrosomia – occurs when a baby is significantly bigger than average. This can result to a difficult delivery. In some instances, the obstetrics and gynecology team will decide to resort to cesarean section or C-section, especially if the baby is already in distress.

Prognosis

Most women who are receiving treatment have a chance of delivering a healthy baby through normal spontaneous vaginal delivery or NSVD.

However, if gestational diabetes remains uncontrolled, chances are you’re at a higher risk of developing complications.

Some women may develop type 2 diabetes after delivery. But this risk can be reduced by exercising, maintaining a healthy weight and following a healthy diet.

Treatment

Treatment for GD means maintaining your blood glucose level within normal range. Depending on your case, your doctor might prescribe insulin shots. Self-help measures like indulging in physical activities and eating healthy foods are also deemed beneficial in reducing your blood sugar level. You can ask your healthcare provider what types of exercise are best for you.

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