It’s another edition of #HealthTalkThursday???.
We are continuing with the Pregnancy Series. If you didn’t read last month’s edition, we talked about Pre-eclampsia. You should check it out HERE.
This month we will be talking about Gestational Diabetes aka GDM.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that is diagnosed when a person is pregnant; hence the “gestational” before the name. 90% of diabetes in pregnancy is gestational diabetes, while the remaining 10% is from pre existing diabetes.
Why do women have diabetes in pregnancy?
Let’s start with diabetes. Diabetes is a condition that occurs when your blood glucose or sugar level is too high and your body cannot process it properly. When a woman is pregnant, her body releases hormones that affect these process. These hormones released durring pregnancy increase blood glucose levels and also makes the pregnant woman more resistant to insulin. This is because the body is trying to ensure that the mom produces enough glucose for her and her growing fetus i.e she is making glucose for 2 people now. Sometimes however, the body overdoes it and mom has excess glucose in her body system.
How is Gestational Diabetes diagnosed?
Usually most pregnant women don’t have specific signs and symptoms, so all pregnant women should be screened for gestational diabetes between 24-28 weeks of pregnancy. This is usually done with a glucose tolerance test where the pregnant woman is given a very sugary drink with a particular amount of glucose and her blood sugar is tested afterwards to see how her body processed this amount of glucose.
What are some factors that increase the risk for gestational diabetes?
- Maternal age- risk factor increases the older the mom is
- Overweight, obesity
- Excess weight gain in pregnancy
- Previously delivering a baby bigger than 9 pounds
- African, Asian or Hispanic descent
- Family history of diabetes
- Past history of Gestational diabetes
- PCOS- Read about it HERE
- Lack of physical activity
What are some of the complications of gestational diabetes?
Poorly controlled gestational diabetes can be harmful to both mom and baby.
For mom: Gestational diabetes could increase your chances of gestational hypertension and pre eclampsia in pregnancy. It could also lead to an increases likelihood of having a c-section. Gestational diabetes increases the likelihood of having Type 2 diabetes in future.
For baby: Gestational diabetes could increase the risk for fetal macrosomia (bigger baby weight) and this in turn increases the chances of c-section or shoulder/body dystocia durring delivery i.e the baby’s body is too big for the vagina canal and the baby becomes stuck/wedged during delivery. Sometimes your Doctor could suggest an induction of labour early to prevent having to birth a macrosomic baby.
Gestational diabetes could also lead to early or pre-term labor, low blood sugar in baby after baby is born, obesity and type 2 diabetes for the child later in life, and having a stillbirth.
How is gestational diabtetes treated?
The goal is to keep your blood sugar within a healthy range. Gestational diabetes can be managed wth a healthy diet and lifestyle changes that help reduce blood sugar levels. Increasing intake of healthy foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits and reducing intake of processed foods, sweets etc, in addition to regular physical activity can help manage glucose levels. It is important you monitor your blood glucose levels to make sure they are within the healthy range.
Insulin and metformin can be used if these lifestyle changes do not keep your blood sugar levels within the target range.
90% of gestational diabetes is resolved after a woman has a baby. All women diagnosed with GDM have to ensure they follow up their blood sugar levels during their 6 weeks check up to make sure they don’t have type 2 diabetes.
And there you have it! Basic info on Gestational Diabetes.
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