Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes associated with specific stages of pregnancy. It happens when your body cannot utilize its insulin, or there are significantly fewer insulin hormones produced within your body to drive glucose into your tissues. This means that glucose cannot leave your body and be converted to usable energy. When glucose continues to build up in the blood, it can cause hyperglycemia which comes with several side effects that can be detrimental to both the mother and child.
So, Should I Refuse Insulin for Gestational Diabetes?
Yes, but you may have to take diabetes medications recommended for gestational diabetes.
How Gestational Diabetes Can Impair The Growth And Development Of Your Baby
The cause of gestational diabetes is unclear, but the impact of the abnormality is well known. Through its supplied hormones, the placenta supports the growth and development of the baby. It has been discovered that sometimes, the placenta hormones may block the mother’s insulin hormone supplies, leading to insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance can lead to the inability of the mother to utilize the hormone, and she may need up to three times her regular insulin supply to resolve complications from gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs when the mother cannot produce and utilize all insulin needed.
Gestational diabetes mainly affects the mother in the later pregnancy stage after the baby’s body formation and when it is still growing. Fortunately, gestational diabetes is not associated with any birth defect unless the money has some other underlying medical issues.
Despite not causing severe harmful defects on the growing baby, poorly controlled or untreated diabetes may still negatively impact the growing baby. When the mother develops gestational diabetes, her pancreas has to work overtime even though the insulin lowers the blood glucose level.
Though insulin does not get to the baby through the placenta, glucose and nutrients will surely do. With extra blood glucose moving to the baby, the baby’s glucose levels will also increase naturally. This also means that the baby’s pancreas will have to work extra to produce more insulin to combat the excess glucose it receives from the mother.
With Gestational diabetes, the baby will get more energy to grow; the extra energy not used will be stored in the baby’s body as fat. This problem may eventually lead to a condition known as Macrosomia, which means “fat baby .”Babies born with Macrosomia will face some health challenges, especially some damages to their shoulders at birth.
Due to the excess insulin made in the pancreas during their growth phase, newborn babies may develop low blood glucose levels and may also develop breathing problems at infancy or while growing up. Children born with high insulin levels are at higher risks of becoming obese and type 2 diabetes.
Gestational Diabetes- What You Should Know
The following are some other things you should know about Gestational diabetes;
1. Classes or Types
It is believed that gestational diabetes affects up to 10% of pregnant women in the US annually, and most of them have never been diagnosed with this disease in their lives.
There are two types of gestational diabetes: class A1 and class A2. Those with class A1 gestational diabetes issues can control the problem with proper diets and physical activities; those suffering from A2 gestation diabetes will need regular insulin or any other medication to combat the illness.
Fortunately for most mothers, gestational diabetes naturally eases off after birth, but it can raise their risks of developing type 2 diabetes and even affect the baby’s health at later stages in life. There are ways through which mothers can reduce the risks and effects of gestational diabetes types.
2. What are the Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes?
Most women suffering from gestational diabetes suffer little or no symptoms; most of these women only discover they have the issue during routine pregnancy screenings.
As a pregnant mother who has gestational diabetes, you will notice an unusual thirst which becomes more frequent as the issue progresses. You may also become hungrier than usual, and sometimes you pee more than usual.
3. What are the Risk Factors for Gestational Diabetes?
The number one risk factor for developing gestational diabetes is when you are already overweight before you fall pregnant. Or have a family member suffering from diabetes. It is believed that gestational diabetes is more prevalent among the Asian, Africana-American, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Alaskan natives than other race groups.
When you have higher blood sugar levels before pregnancy, even though they are not high enough to cause diabetes, that is, if you are pre-diabetic, you are at risk of gestational diabetes. Similarly, if you have a history of gestational diabetes, you may likely develop the condition with every new pregnancy.
If you have a polycystic ovary syndrome, also known as PCOS or any other underlying medical problem linked to Insulin hormones, you are at risk of developing gestational diabetes. Having medical issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and high cholesterol may also increase your risk of gestational diabetes.
If you have given birth to a baby weighing more than 9 lbs. before, you may also be at risk of developing gestational diabetes on your next pregnancy. Babies weighing more than 9 lbs. at birth are considered overweight.
If you had a miscarriage before or had a baby with a certain birth defect, you may likely suffer from gestational diabetes. Though there are ongoing investigations on how age can raise the risk of gestational diabetes, it is believed that women over the age of 25 have higher risks of developing gestational diabetes.
What Are The Tests And Diagnosis For Gestational Diabetes?
The only way to find out if you have gestational diabetes is to go for regular screening at each stage of pregnancy development.
It is believed that gestational diabetes occurs mostly in the second half of pregnancy, and in most cases, a doctor may check for it at weeks 24 and 28 or sooner if you are at higher risks of the problem.
The first test conducted for gestational diabetes is a Glucose tolerance test. This is a test where the doctor gives you a sweet drink containing up to 50g of glucose, and this will raise your blood sugar. You will be tested for glucose tolerance an hour after taking the glucose drink to see how insulin supplied by your body handled the blood glucose.
If your blood sugar remains high even after an hour of consuming a glucose drink, you may be subjected to another test which is a 3-hour oral glucose tolerance test. This means you will be tested for blood glucose levels after 3 hours of taking a total of 100g of glucose.
You may be subjected to a 12-hour fasting period, after which you will be given a 75g glucose drink, and your blood glucose test will be taken after 2 hours. In some cases, you might be at risk of gestational diabetes even if your blood glucose tests are normal. In this case, the doctor may have to test you again at a later stage of the pregnancy.
Treatments For Gestational Diabetes
If you test positive for gestational diabetes, you will have to commence your treatment as soon as possible to reduce the risks or prevent your baby from harm. You may have to check your blood sugar levels as much as four times a day. You may also have to check the level of ketones in your urine, and these are natural chemicals that indicate diabetes development.
If you are pre-diabetes and still test negative for high blood glucose, the doctor will recommend healthy physical activity and a carefully-planned diet. The doctor will keep track of your weight and the baby’s development from the first time you get tested. Moderate to low impact activities are recommended to avoid putting heavy pressure on the mother and child.
In case you test positive for gestational diabetes, you may have to take shots of insulin for a period of time and at regular intervals to keep your blood sugar levels under control.
According to the American Diabetes Association, pregnant women should target blood sugar levels lower than 95 mg/dL before a meal and less than 140 mg/dL an hour after a meal. And less than 120mg/dL, two hours after a meal. The meals recommended mostly for women suffering from gestational diabetes should contain low carbs and low sugar to stay healthy. You may have to follow a doctor’s meal plan to manage your gestational diabetes until the birth of your baby. You may have to trade your regular snacks with healthier choices. You may also be advised to increase your fiber intake and limit your fat consumption significantly. Foods rich in vitamins and minerals are also increased to help the mother get all nutrients for herself and the growing baby.