Signs and Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes
It is believed that the hormones released by the placenta ensure the growth of the fetus, but at the same time they block the action of the woman’s insulin in the body cells. This leads to a condition called ‘insulin resistance’. The cells in the body of the pregnant woman find it difficult to use insulin. As a result of this, the body needs more insulin which it fails to produce. The body may require up to three times as much insulin. Owing to the low amount of insulin in the bloodstream, functions like separation of glucose from blood and production of energy are severely affected. Therefore gestational diabetes symptoms like high blood sugar level are noticed. The symptoms are almost similar to those experienced by a diabetic woman.
- Unusual excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Increased hunger
- Excessive tiredness, fatigue
- Frequent bladder and urinary tract infections
- Vision problems, for example, blurred vision
In most cases, gestational diabetes is asymptomatic. And the above symptoms (except blurred vision and frequent infections) are experienced by almost all pregnant women due to pressure exerted by the growing embryo and due to hormonal changes taking place in the body. So these symptoms are most likely to be ignored. This explains the importance of routine checkup and blood tests during pregnancy. A blood test can help detect gestational diabetes. It is better to know who are at risk of developing gestational diabetes.
Risk Factors for Gestational Diabetes
- Women older than age 25
- Women having prediabetes (slightly higher blood glucose levels)
- A parent or sibling diagnosed with type 2 diabetes
- Gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy
- Weight of your previous baby: more than 9 pounds (4.1 kilograms)
- An unexplained stillbirth in previous pregnancy
- Overweight or obese women (women with BMI 30 or more)
- Being Black, Hispanic, American Indian or Asian woman
Women diagnosed with diabetes during pregnancy need to follow a gestational diabetes meal plan religiously. It is a part of the treatment. Incorporation of low carb, low fat, non-starchy foods in the diet helps prevent health complications. Avoiding sugary foods, high glycemic foods is essential to maintain the health of the mother and the baby as well. Women should take medications and supplements suggested by the doctor, sincerely. They need to avoid over the counter medications, as they may lead to certain health complications. Performing light pregnancy exercises regularly is also equally important. Untreated or poorly controlled gestational diabetes can result in very large babies who are more likely to have birth injuries, or the mother is likely to have a C-section. It also increases the risk of preterm birth. The babies are likely to suffer from respiratory problems, low blood sugar, seizures, jaundice. Later in life, they may develop obesity and type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes increases the risk of preeclampsia and eclampsia in pregnant women. The woman is also likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.
Gestational diabetes develops generally during the second half of pregnancy. Women with gestational diabetes symptoms should get their blood sugar levels checked after delivery, and again in six weeks. The readings should be normal. It is better for them to get the blood sugar level tested regularly.