Are you midway through your pregnancy and suddenly feeling excessively thirsty? Are you constantly exhausted and frequently feel the urge to pee? If yes, perhaps it is time to get tested for gestational diabetes or diabetes during pregnancy. It is completely normal to miss the signs of gestational diabetes since they are similar to other pregnancy symptoms.
Gestational diabetes only happens during pregnancy. The woman diagnosed with gestational diabetes may not have had diabetes before she got pregnant and this type of diabetes also goes away the delivery of the baby. Doctors screen for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 months of pregnancy when it is most likely to be detected.
Also read: Pregnancy Risks After 35 Years Of Age
Gestational diabetes is fairly common affecting between 10-14% of all pregnant women in India, a higher percentage than that of the west.
The cause of gestational diabetes is understood to be the pregnancy hormones and it might make using insulin difficult. During pregnancy, the placenta (the organ that feeds and delivers oxygen to your baby) releases hormones that help your baby grow. Some of these make it harder for your body to make or use insulin causing insulin resistance. To balance the insulin levels, the pancreas has to make more insulin but if it can’t your blood sugar will rise which then causes gestational diabetes.
Women of some regions are more susceptible to gestational diabetes – Southern Asian, Indian, Caribbean, and African.
If gestational diabetes is diagnosed and treated on time, it does not affect the mother or the growing baby. However, if left untreated, it can have a number of consequences on the growing foetus and the mother-to-be. The effects include:
Research has also indicated that babies of mothers with diabetes during pregnancy have an increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life.
It is suggested that all pregnant women who test positive for Gestational Diabetes should be started on medical, nutritional and physical therapy in consultation with their doctors.
Gestational diabetes can be easily treated with the right medication in case of most pregnant women which can be prescribed by the consulting doctor.
Carbohydrates are essential to provide energy, but have a direct impact on the blood sugar levels. Complex carbohydrates (which take a longer time to break down like whole-grains and cereal – oats, bajra, ragi, jowar, vegetables, whole fruits) should be preferred over simple carbohydrates (sugar, honey, food made from refined flour) as they take longer to break down and have lesser impact on blood sugar levels.
Saturated fats should make up less than 10% of the total calorie intake in case of all adults, especially pregnant women with Gestational Diabetes. You could manage your fat intake by avoiding fried food, using lean meat, using low-fat products instead of full fat or whole milk products and substituting sugary snacks with fresh fruit and salads.
The protein requirements of a pregnant woman are higher for normal foetal growth. Eat at least 3 servings of protein daily – milk and milk products, pulses and dals, eggs, chicken or fish as per your food preferences.
Foods high in soluble fibre help control blood sugar. Such foods include flax seeds, oats, legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), root vegetables and psyllium husk etc.
In most pregnant women with diabetes, it gets resolved soon after delivery. The post-pregnancy care of women with this type of diabetes is not very different from that of women without. However, these women have a higher chance of developing Type 2 diabetes in the future. Therefore taking the following precautions are essential:
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