The journey of pregnancy is filled with anticipation and excitement, but it often brings along health challenges that add bumps to the road. One such challenge faced by a significant percentage of pregnant women is gestational diabetes.
The condition develops when the body cannot produce enough insulin to meet the increased needs of pregnancy, which leads to a surge in blood sugar levels. This type of diabetes typically occurs around the 24th week of pregnancy and can affect the health of both the mother and the baby. Therefore, exercising caution becomes imperative.
While the precise cause of gestational diabetes remains unclear, several factors are known to contribute to the development of this condition during pregnancy.
The most common cause of gestational diabetes is the hormonal fluctuations that occur during pregnancy. Some of these hormonal changes lead to insulin resistance.
Age is an important factor here, as women’s susceptibility to gestational diabetes increases with age, particularly for those who are over 35.
When it comes to diabetes, genetics play a major role. Having a family history of diabetes elevates the risk of gestational diabetes. If a close relative has diabetes, it is strongly suggested to monitor blood sugar levels during pregnancy.
Weight and Body Mass Index (BMI):
Excess weight before pregnancy is often linked with a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes. Thus, women with a higher BMI are more prone to this condition.
In most cases, women with gestational diabetes either experience no symptoms or have mild ones. This underscores the importance of regular prenatal care and screening tests.
Some common diagnostic methods are:
- Glucose Challenge Test: This is the most popular type of diagnostic method for gestational diabetes. The screening process involves drinking a sugary solution, and then blood sugar levels are measured after an hour. If the blood sugar level is elevated, further testing may be required.
- Oral Glucose Tolerance Test: This is a more comprehensive test that involves fasting overnight and then drinking a concentrated glucose solution empty stomach in the morning. Blood sugar measurements taken before and after you drink the solution track how the body is processing glucose.
- Continuous Glucose Monitoring: This diagnosis method involves tracking blood sugar day-round, and might be advised in certain cases.
Treatment and Management
To ensure the well-being of both the mother and the baby, managing gestational diabetes is essential. In most cases, the treatment typically involves lifestyle and dietary modifications. Whereas, in some cases, medication is prescribed as well.
Here is how gestational diabetes is treated and managed:
- Regular Monitoring Blood Sugar Levels: Testing blood sugar levels on a regular basis at home is essential for managing gestational diabetes. It is done to make sure that your blood sugar levels are not exceeding the target range.
- Healthy Diet: For women with gestational diabetes, maintaining a well-balanced diet is key to managing blood sugar levels and ensuring a healthy pregnancy. Follow the diet plan prescribed by a health expert that should focus on whole grains, lean protein, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. Also, limit your intake of sugar and artificial sweeteners.
- Physical Activity: A commonly advised guideline is to engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, coupled with strength exercises on 2 or more days. In gestational diabetes, exercise is a highly effective way to bring down your blood glucose level.
- Medication: If your blood sugar levels are too high, and dietary and lifestyle modifications fail to stabilize them in a couple of weeks, oral medication may be prescribed. In some cases, the doctor may also prescribe insulin.
To ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery when suffering from gestational diabetes, careful monitoring and management is required. Expecting mothers can cope with gestational diabetes with confidence through awareness of this condition, its causes, undergoing timely diagnosis, and following the prescribed treatments.
Dealing with gestational diabetes can be challenging, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle and following the doctor’s advice is the key. Ensuring the well-being of both the mother and the baby, this maintains the journey to motherhood as a joyous one.