Diabetes is a relatively common condition that affects how the body produces energy through the use of glucose in the bloodstream. There are different types of diabetes that exist. While people are generally aware of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, there is another type that you also need to understand. This type is known as gestational diabetes, which is a condition that can affect pregnant women. In this post, we will discuss the potential causes, and signs of gestational diabetes and look at the best treatment options that are available.
What Is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes refers to cases where a pregnant woman is diagnosed as a diabetic for the first time. In these cases, the woman did not have diabetes prior to her pregnancy. This type of diabetes has similarities to other types, as it also causes problems with how cells in your body use the glucose that circulates in your blood.
An early diagnosis and treatment of gestational diabetes are crucial. The condition does not only affect you but also your unborn baby. Proper management of the condition can help to reduce the risk of pregnancy-related complications and help you deliver a healthy baby. Research shows that as many as 10% of pregnancies recorded in the United States include the development of gestational diabetes.
Signs And Symptoms Of Gestational Diabetes
One major issue with gestational diabetes is the fact that it often does not cause any noticeable symptoms at an early stage. When you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes early on, treatments are generally more effective, and this helps to prevent complications.
Two signs that you should be on the lookout for include an increase in thirst, as well as a more frequent need to urinate. These can be signs of other conditions too, so it is important to report them to your healthcare provider.
Risk Factors And Causes
Insulin is an important hormone that the pancreas creates in response to blood glucose in the blood circulatory system. The primary role of insulin is to help glucose enter cells, where the sugar is then used as fuel for energy. In cases of gestational diabetes, the body does not make a sufficient amount of insulin to process all of the glucose in your blood. This causes blood glucose levels to increase.
Throughout pregnancy, your body goes through a large number of changes. This includes alterations to the hormones that it produces. You will also gain weight while you are pregnant. All of these changes can cause problems with insulin production, as well as how effective insulin is. Cells may become less efficient in utilizing glucose that is attached to insulin or develop resistance to insulin. This can lead to insulin resistance, in which case it is harder for insulin to deliver glucose to your cells.
One report explains that throughout pregnancy, your body creates more glucose in order to supply sugar to the growing fetus. The fetus generally absorbs excess glucose in its bloodstream, but there are times when too many insulin-blocking hormones are released by the fetus too. This can cause high spikes in blood glucose, leading to the diagnosis of gestational diabetes.
Complications Associated With Gestational Diabetes
There are certain complications that can affect both you and your unborn baby if you develop gestational diabetes. As a pregnant woman, you may experience hypertension, and there is a risk for preeclampsia too. The chances of having to undergo a C-section for the birth of your baby will also considerably increase if you have gestational diabetes. Apart from these, your likeliness of developing type 2 diabetes in the future also increases in this case.
In terms of your baby, there are certain risks and complications that can affect them too. Babies born to a mother with gestational diabetes are more likely to have hypoglycemia. You are also more likely to give early birth, and there is a risk that your baby will have excessive weight at birth. Respiratory distress syndrome has also been noted among some babies born to a mother with gestational diabetes. Furthermore, it is also important to note that the risk of stillbirth increases with gestational diabetes.
Treatments For Gestational Diabetes
Before any treatments can be provided, it is important for a doctor to first run a few tests. These tests can help to confirm whether you have gestational diabetes. An initial glucose challenge test will be done, along with a glucose tolerance test as a follow-up.
Once you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, then there are certain actions that you will need to take. The first includes lifestyle changes, which may consist of adopting a healthier diet and remaining active throughout pregnancy. These changes, along with blood glucose monitoring, can often help to manage gestational diabetes without further intervention.
Your baby will also be closely monitored on a regular basis if you have gestational diabetes. This can help the healthcare provider detect any unusual changes that may be an indication of complications.
In cases where the lifestyle changes you make do not help to provide the right level of glucose management, then medication may be required to treat gestational diabetes. Insulin injections are sometimes used to help keep blood glucose at the right levels to prevent serious complications. There are also certain oral drugs that you can use to manage your blood glucose levels. Your healthcare provider will carefully assess your situation and decide what the best medical treatment option is based on the severity of your gestational diabetes.
In addition to these treatment factors, it is also important to have a follow-up appointment with your doctor about six weeks following birth. They can monitor your blood glucose and determine if it has stabilized post-delivery.
Gestational diabetes can develop in pregnant women and possibly lead to complications with the pregnancy. Recognizing the signs is important, but it is also crucial to understand the fact that many pregnant women do not have early symptoms. If you have a medical history that shows risk factors for gestational diabetes, be sure to mention this to your healthcare provider. Regular testing can help you identify the development of gestational diabetes and take appropriate action without delay.