Have you ever heard of gestational diabetes and do you know when it occurs? For many women, pregnancy is the most anticipated and wonderful moment in life. Unfortunately, it is sometimes accompanied by complications.
One such complication that requires special attention in order for both mother and baby to be well is gestational diabetes. Given how important the topic is, we at The Sized have decided to introduce you to the basics of this condition and give you some tips on what to do to get through pregnancy much easier and safer.
What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that is well known to all of us. Here, too, high blood sugar levels are observed, which are caused by changes in the way the body uses insulin. The main difference between this and other types of diabetes is that here the woman did not have any problems before pregnancy.
Pregnant women with gestational diabetes usually find out about this condition between 24-28 weeks of pregnancy. Sometimes a woman’s body breaking down substances gets out of control – the body can stop producing the hormone insulin or stop responding to it.
As with other forms of diabetes, this is a prerequisite for raising blood sugar levels and deteriorating health.
Is Gestational Diabetes Reversible?
Yes, gestational diabetes is a temporary and reversible condition. However, you should always pay attention to the symptoms and consult a medical expert in endocrinology. Timely treatment is key to your recovery.
The lack of any treatment and attempts at prevention pose not only dangers to you but also to the fetus. In addition, if you do not take action when necessary, gestational diabetes can play a significant role in the development of type 2 diabetes. Therefore, you need to react as soon as the first symptoms appear.
Gestational diabetes – symptoms
Speaking of symptoms, let’s get acquainted with the most common in gestational diabetes:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Increased fetal size compared to the gestational week
Some of the signs of a problem largely overlap with those in the first months of pregnancy. This can lead to confusion on your part, so it is important to share all your symptoms and concerns with the specialist who is monitoring your condition at this time.
How is gestational diabetes diagnosed?
Gestational diabetes, like any other type, is diagnosed by taking blood and creating the so-called “patient profile.” Given that the symptoms are often invisible and do not differ significantly from normal for pregnancy, early screening is absolutely mandatory.
When a woman is pregnant, has cardiovascular disease, reproductive problems in previous pregnancies, or polycystic ovaries, for example, monitoring begins as early as the 12th week of gestation.
Women who show normal glucose tolerance during the first test are tested again between 24-28 weeks of gestation. Indicators of gestational diabetes in this situation are the following:
- Fasting blood sugar ≥ 5.1 mmol/l;
- At 1 hour of OGTT ≥ 10.0 mmol/l;
- At the 2nd hour of OGTT ≥ 8.5 mmol/l;
Why is it important to take action?
If you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, do not rush to worry. The most important thing, in this case, is to stay calm and follow your doctor’s recommendations. But why is it important to do this?
If left untreated, gestational diabetes increases the risk of miscarriage, the development of pathologies during pregnancy, and type 2 diabetes afterward. There could also be consequences on the fetus – premature birth and extremely low blood sugar levels, higher risk of being overweight, and predisposition to type 2 diabetes.
Gestational diabetes sometimes requires a cesarean delivery due to high glucose levels and increased fetal size.
Tips for gestational diabetes
After introducing you to the nature, symptoms, and risks of gestational diabetes, it’s time to share 6 tips to follow to enjoy a healthy baby and no complications during or after pregnancy.
1. Monitor your blood sugar levels regularly
The most important piece of advice we can give you is to check your blood sugar levels regularly. This will show you how much the sugar is moving and you will know better how to react if you notice an increase at certain times.
Nowadays, you no longer need to do daily blood tests to check your blood sugar. Due to the high prevalence of all forms of diabetes in the world’s population, scientists have successfully developed a method that shows blood sugar levels in real-time, at home.
That’s right, it’s a glucometer. This small device is extremely easy to operate, and its proven accuracy makes it the preferred method of research among people suffering from problems with glucose levels.
2. Follow a healthy diet
Food is a key element in influencing glucose levels. That’s why it’s important to keep track of what you eat and limit high-carb foods. They are difficult to degrade and are associated with rising blood sugar levels.
This, of course, does not mean completely excluding them from your menu – they are still sources of energy and you need them to feel good. As always, the key is in the balance.
A balanced diet is a key to dealing with gestational diabetes. If necessary, consult both your doctor and dietitian – they can inform you about the amounts you can take.
3. Be physically active
Physical activity during pregnancy is extremely important. Unless you have other complications and an explicit ban from a doctor, we advise you to take time for short, regular, and moderate exercise.
Exercise will not only help improve sugar levels but will also prepare your body for the long-awaited birth. Of course, never overdo it and do not do heavy and exhausting exercise. Pregnancy is not a time for experimentation, so stick to light exercises that you have practiced before.
4. Keep track of your weight
With this advice, we are not telling you that you should try to lose weight. On the contrary! Diets for weight loss during pregnancy are strictly prohibited and you should not take such at your discretion!
Gaining weight during pregnancy is completely normal and natural. Weight values can vary with each woman, and they are often the result of external factors, including predisposition of the body. However, by balancing your menu, you will have little control over your own weight.
5. Discuss your condition with a specialist
Whenever anxious thoughts and questions come to your mind, it’s time to consult your doctor. Only he can adequately and correctly respond to all your concerns. Do not resort to reading forums and other sources of dubious origin, which can confuse and mislead you rather than helping you.
6. Take your medication
Don’t be afraid to take all the medications your doctor may prescribe. Your endocrinologist will be able to adequately assess your condition and your need for medication. There is nothing to worry about when taking the medication as directed by your doctor.
The most preferred drug treatment is insulin, and depending on the situation, different regimens with basal insulin and/or fast-acting insulin before meals are usually used. Doses are usually adjusted for blood sugar levels, keeping in mind that as your pregnancy progresses, your doctor may prescribe higher doses.
What happens after birth?
In general, after the baby is born, glucose levels return to normal. However, in order for the mother to be sure that everything is fine, she needs to have an OGTT test within 6 to 12 weeks after giving birth to rule out the possibility of persistent diabetes.
With normal glucose tolerance, you should continue your tests once every three years, and in case of a subsequent pregnancy, you should immediately check the levels of carbohydrate metabolism again.
We hope that you are already sufficiently informed so that you do not allow the worries of gestational diabetes to overwhelm you. Follow your doctor’s recommendations, check your blood sugar levels regularly and follow a healthy diet to make the pregnancy as easy as possible for your body.
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