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The What, How & Why of Gestational Diabetes

December 5, 2023 5:48 am
Rean Foundation

Diabetes is common among men and women. However, Gestational Diabetes (GD) is common only among women or pregnant women in particular. Also, only some women develop GD during pregnancy, and they may require Insulin doses to help manage their blood sugar levels.

Being diagnosed with GD is not good news because the condition can cause complications for you and your baby. However, you can always keep your blood sugar levels in check with adequate exercise, diet, and medication to ensure a safe gestational period.

Let’s unravel the details of Gestational Diabetes in the forthcoming sections of our blog. These details will be helpful for pregnant women diagnosed with GD and for those seeking guidance to steer clear of the disorder during pregnancy.

Commonality & Causes of Gestational Diabetes

To understand GD, it is important to first comprehend the role of Insulin in the body. Insulin is a hormone secreted by a group of pancreatic cells called the Islets of Langerhans.

The prime function of Insulin is to assimilate the glucose from the food for absorption by the body cells, and by doing so, it keeps the blood glucose level under control. So why does GD occur in some pregnant women? Here’s a list of the common reasons that lead to this disorder:

1. Placental hormones

The hormones secreted by the placenta during pregnancy may sometimes cause insulin resistance- an occurrence where your body cells do not respond to insulin, thereby leading to high blood glucose levels. Uncontrolled blood sugar can lead to anomalies in the later stages of pregnancy.

2. Genetic predisposition

You are more prone to gestational diabetes if one or both of your parents are diabetic.

3. Pregnancy-related insulin resistance

In some women, pregnancy itself causes insulin resistance in the body. Medical experts say that the body’s natural adaptive mechanism ensures an adequate supply of blood glucose for fetal development. However, in certain women, insulin resistance can become too high, leading to the development of gestational diabetes.

4. Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

In expectant mothers with PCOS, insulin resistance and hormonal imbalances can increase the risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy.

5. Obesity

Being overweight or obese puts you at a much higher risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy.

GD Occurrence

Most often, Gestational Diabetes does not occur until you are about 24-28 weeks into your pregnancy. If you are already diabetic with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, GD will most likely cause more pregnancy-related complications.

In most women, GD goes away a few days or weeks after delivery. If the condition remains even after delivery, it is called Type 2 diabetes.

Also Read: Targeting Lifestyle Habits: A Powerful Strategy to Reduce Risk of Dementia

So, how does GD manifest in pregnant women? Generally, the symptoms of GD are pretty much the same for diabetes that occurs in non-pregnant women or men.

The symptoms include:

  • Recurrent infections
  • Excessive hunger or thirst
  • Frequent passing of urine
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Nausea

As already mentioned, being diagnosed with GD is not good news. The condition impacts parental and fetal health and causes numerous complications for the mother and the unborn child. Let’s get to the details.

Impact of Gestational Diabetes During Pregnancy

Large fetus

Uncontrolled GD increases the baby’s blood sugar level, causing the fetus to be overfed, resulting in excessive weight gain. The extra weight not only causes immense discomfort for the mother but also results in difficult labor where both the mother and child suffer injuries.

Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia refers to high blood pressure during pregnancy. Women with GD are more prone to this life-threatening condition, which increases the risk of premature delivery and seizures or stroke in the mother during delivery. Preeclampsia may also prompt a C-section delivery.

Premature labor

High blood sugar may induce premature labor, where the baby is several weeks before the due date. Premature babies are at a higher risk of infections, breathing difficulties, and Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.

Diabetic baby

Even if the baby is born diabetes-free, the occurrence of GD in the mother can lead to Type 2 diabetes and obesity in the child later on in life.

Complications during labor

If left untreated, GD can cause major complications for the baby. It can result in stillbirth, where the fetus is born dead, or cause death shortly after delivery.

Given the many complications of Gestational Diabetes, it is vital for pregnant women to get tested for the same and start on the proper treatment if the test results are positive.

Let’s now explore the various tests your doctor may recommend to diagnose GD in pregnancy.

2 Common Tests For Gestational Diabetes Diagnosis

Diagnostic tests are standard during pregnancy, but getting tested for GD happens around weeks 24-28. That’s because the hormones secreted by the placenta during this gestational period can interfere with insulin production and assimilation.

As a precaution, your doctor will recommend the following tests to rule out diabetes during pregnancy. Here are some standard diagnostic tests to manage gestational diabetes in women.

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test or OGTT

The OGTT requires overnight fasting, after which your blood sample is collected early next morning. This test delivers accurate results with Gestational Diabetes.

Glucose Challenge Test (GCT)

This is one of the most common tests to diagnose GD. Typically this test is conducted between Week 24-28. During this test, you will be made to drink a glucose solution. The primary goal of GCT is to assess the efficiency of your body in processing glucose.

If, unfortunately, you are diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, you should be extra cautious about maintaining your health and managing this condition. Here are some guidelines about managing GD and having a safe pregnancy.

Tips to Safeguard Your Health From Gestational Diabetes

  • Always monitor your blood glucose levels with a glucose meter.
  • Have regular consultations with your gynecologist to monitor your pregnancy fetal growth and evaluate your blood sugar.
  • Maintain a healthy diet. Consume plenty of fiber, protein, fruits, and vegetables. Always avoid processed foods and carbohydrates. Also, keep your sugar and slate consumption under control.
  • Eat 4-5 small meals instead of 3 large ones. This will aid the digestion process.
  • Stay active. Take short walks and continue your routine activities.

REAN to the Rescue: Managing Your Pregnancy With Hi-tech HealthGuru

When it comes to health, prevention is always better than cure. Hence, if you are planning your pregnancy and are more prone to diabetes, always consult your doctor to undertake preventive measures to keep GD at bay. Efforts like losing extra weight or maintaining your blood sugar level under control.

Another smart way to have an enjoyable and safe pregnancy is using the REAN Foundation’s HealthGuru app. Our AI-powered app delivers real-time insights about your health and recommends research-based approaches related to food, diet, exercise, and physical activity.

Our app ensures timely diagnosis of your symptoms and recommends measures to counteract Gestational Diabetes. HealthGuru also offers a slew of benefits, such as:

  • Personalized health management.
  • Consultation with health experts
  • Diet recommendations

In a nutshell, HealthGuru simplifies your gestational journey and empowers you to manage GD in the easiest way possible.

Want to know more about the HealthGuru app by the REAN Foundation? Consult with our team and make the most of our AI-powered app throughout pregnancy and beyond.

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