There is a certain type of diabetes that affects only pregnant women called gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes occurs because a pregnant woman’s hormones cannot use the sugar (glucose) in the blood to the optimum. The level of sugar in their blood thus becomes higher than normal. High sugar levels in your blood can be unhealthy for both the mother and the baby. If this diabetes is not treated, the baby is more likely to have problems at birth.
“Gestational diabetes occurs because a pregnant woman’s hormones cannot use the sugar in the blood”
Gestational diabetes is diagnosed with blood tests. Most pregnant women are tested between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy, but if there are risk factors, the doctor may decide to test earlier in the pregnancy. A screening glucose challenge test involves drinking a sugary beverage and having your blood drawn for testing of glucose levels an hour later. If the screening test is not normal, you may need additional testing.
The causes of gestational diabetes can be many and some of them include body mass index, gestational diabetes in previous pregnancies and a family history of diabetes. Though gestational diabetes can sound scary, it is an ailment that can be treated by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The diabetes centre available at Apollo clinics specially focuses on helping pregnant women manage gestational diabetes.
Some of the treatment options include:
- Diet Modification: If you have gestational diabetes, you will need to follow a diet suggested by your doctor, exercise regularly and take blood tests to check your blood sugar level. Your doctor may ask you to change some of the foods you eat. You should not eat foods that contain simple sugar, such as cakes, cookies, candy or ice cream. Instead, eat only foods with natural sugars, like fruits.
- Exercise: It is usually advised by doctors to exercise regularly at a level that is safe for you and the baby. Exercise will help keep your blood sugar levels normal and it can also make you feel better. Walking is usually the easiest type of exercise, but swimming or other exercises you enjoy, work just as well. If you are not used to exercising, try doing it only for five to 10 minutes every day. The longer you exercise and the more often you exercise, the better the control of your blood sugar will be. If you have uterine contractions, vaginal bleeding or your water bag breaks, call your doctor right away.
- Testing Time: Every pregnant woman must get regular blood tests done to check your blood sugar levels. A normal blood sugar level is less than 90 mg per dl when you’re fasting and less than 120mg per dl two hours after a meal. If your blood sugar level is regularly higher than these levels, you will begin taking medicine to help lower your blood sugar level.
Diabetes can be prevented to a certain extent but it is hereditary in most cases. Its complications can be delayed or prevented if the above points are diligently followed. Instituting early insulin therapy in newly diagnosed diabetes patients is a proven measure to delay/prevent the complications of diabetes. The insulin therapy needs to be closely supervised and all the measures need to be taken to prevent any episode of hypoglycaemia. There is not much that can be done about type 1 diabetes but measures can be taken to control type 2 diabetes. For many diabetics, especially new ones, the going may seem tough but with careful planning and a balanced diet, it is not impossible.