Gestational diabetes is a pregnancy induced diabetes ... a condition characterized by high glucose levels that's first noticed during pregnancy and occurs in approximately 4% of all pregnancies.
This diabetes has a close resemblance to type 2, in the sense that its onset may either be due to inadequate secretion of insulin or the inability of your cells to respond adequately to the absorption
of insulin ...
Like I said earlier, gestational diabetes occurs in about one in every 40 pregnancies and may improve or disappear after delivery. And of course, when properly managed, it's fully treatable, which requires a close medical monitoring during the term of the pregnancy ...
Unfortunately, almost half of the women affected by gestational diabetes develop type 2 diabetes later in life ...
Research has shown that over 90% of all pregnant women have some degree of impaired glucose intolerance due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy. Resulting to above normal blood sugar levels but, not high enough to cause diabetes. However, during the later part of pregnancy -- usually at the third trimester, these hormonal changes place a high burden of onset of this diabetes on these pregnant women.
Apart from this, your placenta -- an organ that connects your baby by the umbilical cord to your uterus, produces an increased amount of certain hormones that tend to move nutrients from you to your developing uterus. In addition, the placenta also produces other hormones that prevent you from developing low blood sugar ... these hormones sort of, resist your actions of insulin...
That's why, over time, these hormones lead to progressive impaired glucose intolerance i.e. higher blood sugar levels. Therefore, to help you stabilize this sugar high, your body makes more insulin in order to get glucose into your cells for energy.
Meanwhile, during this period, your body works very hard to secrete about three time its normal amount of insulin to cushion the effect of pregnancy hormones on your blood sugar levels. But, if your pancreas fails to produce enough insulin to overcome the effect of the increased hormones, then it has no choice than to retain a high level of blood sugar, resulting in gestational diabetes.
Though it may be transient, untreated gestational diabetes can either damage your health or that of your fetus ... in early pregnancy, it can result in birth defects and an increased rate of miscarriage.
Many of the birth defects that occur affect major organs such as the brain and heart.
However, during the second and third trimester, your diabetes can lead to over-nutrition and excess growth of your baby, a condition known as macrosomia. Remember, that having a large baby increases risks during labor and delivery. Oftentimes, large babies require caesarean deliveries and if delivered normally, might result in shoulder injury such as shoulder dystocia.
In addition, when fetal over-nutrition occurs and hyper-insulinemia results, your baby's blood sugar can drop very low after birth, since it won't be receiving the high blood sugar from you.
Good a thing, with proper treatment, you can deliver a healthy baby despite having diabetes.
Meanwhile, a 2008 study completed in the U.S. found the number of American women entering pregnancy with pre-existing diabetes is increasing. In fact, the rate of diabetes in expectant mothers
has more than doubled in the past six years. This is particularly problematic as diabetes raises the risk of complications during pregnancy, as well as increasing the potential for the children of diabetic mothers to become diabetic in the future.
Yes, there are some critical factors that can increase the risk of your development of gestational diabetes during pregnancy: they include:
Even when you're not at risk, gestational diabetes can sneak in when you least expect it during pregnancy ... so it pays to monitor your health regularly during pregnancy in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
If you fall under the group with high risk, then, you should be screened as early as possible during pregnancy. But if you're at low risk, the best time for screening is say between the 24th and 28th week of your pregnancy.
And the best and simplest test is the, Oral Glucose Tolerance test ...
According to Dr. M. Hopewell, the test is very easy and involves quickly drinking a sweetened liquid, which contains 50g of sugar. The goal is for your body to rapidly absorb this sugar so as to cause your blood sugar level to rise. You're allowed to rest for 30-60 minutes and after one hour of drinking the solution, a blood sample is then taken from a vein in your arm.
The blood test measures how your system processes the sugar solution.
A confirmation blood sugar level greater than or equal to 140mg/dL is recognized as abnormal. But, if abnormal results were received based on the oral glucose tolerance test, another test will be given after fasting for several hours.
Moreover, if you're at high risk, you're advised to follow up your normal screening test with another test once your pregnancy hits 24-28 weeks so that you can be doubly sure of your health status ...
Managing this diabetes is not difficult, you can do that by following some life saving regiment such as:
Most times, it's your placenta that is the culprit. It is the placenta that produces the extra hormones that create insulin resistance for your blood sugar rise. Of course, you return to normal about 6 weeks after childbirth because the placenta also leaves when your baby is born...
And don't forget to see your doctor to check your blood sugar levels after your baby is born. A precautionary way of ensuring that your blood sugar level has returned to normal. Some doctors recommend an oral glucose tolerance test 6-8 weeks after delivery to check for diabetes.
Once, you've been diagnosed of this diabetes, you should make it a point of duty to get screened regularly ... because recent studies have shown that women who have had gestational diabetes have a 60% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later-in-life. But, by maintaining an ideal body weight, following a healthy diet, and exercising, you will be able to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
In addition, women who have gestational diabetes during one pregnancy have a 40%-50% chance of developing diabetes in the next pregnancy. So, if you had gestational diabetes in your last pregnancy and are planning to get pregnant again, talk to your health care provider first so you can make the necessary lifestyle changes before you open your legs ... of course for a new baby.