All You Need to Know About Gestational Diabetes

Gestational Diabetes: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Management

If you are expecting, you are surely thrilled at the prospect of meeting the tiny little human being who is growing inside you! However, pregnancy comes with its own share of medical issues and gestational diabetes is one of them, especially if you are over 35 years of age.

Nothing to get nervous about! If you are not sure what gestational diabetes is and how it can be managed, we have got you covered! Read more to understand about this type of diabetes.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM), more commonly known and identified as gestational diabetes, is very common during pregnancy. Maintenance of blood sugar levels during pregnancy is very important when diagnosed with this condition.

Screening and diagnosis:

A routine and regular test that is done for diabetes can help screen gestational diabetes at the right time. Women who develop gestational diabetes tend to have high blood sugar levels during pregnancy and this can cause severe complications if not treated.

The diagnosis of gestational diabetes at an early stage helps the mother and baby to stay fit and healthy. It generally helps a mother to deliver a healthy child with optimum weight and decreases the risk of preterm babies, which is usually associated with GDM. Statistics reveal that 5% of pregnancies have the risk of GDM.

You are at risk of developing GDM if -

  1. You are insulin resistant
  2. Have PCOD
  3. Carrying twins or triplets
  4. Someone in your family had it

Increased maternal weight is also known to be one of the major causes of GDM. Dietary patterns during pregnancy are also listed as one of the main contributors to GDM.

Signs and symptoms:

Some of the major symptoms of GDM are as below:

  1. Weight loss not linked to diet and exercise
  2. Extreme tiredness
  3. Repeated UTI and other infections
  4. Dryness in mouth
  5. Numbness on feet
  6. Issues with clarity of vision

Irritability and hypoglycaemia associated with any of the above symptoms can also indicate diabetes, and this needs immediate attention.

Future implications of GDM:

Mothers who develop GDM are known to be at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.

It has been documented that GDM is more common in women who get pregnant at an older age, are obese, have hormonal complications and have greater glucose intolerance.

GDM is also associated with a family history of diabetes and is generally seen to continue beyond pregnancy. Women who develop GDM are prone to further health complications - like blood pressure variations, higher lipid levels, heart-related complications and obesity - in later years.

Prevention and Management of GDM

  • Pre-pregnancy counselling is the most fool proof method to manage the risk of GDM during pregnancy.
  • Women who are diabetic and are planning a pregnancy must be advised to check their cumulative sugar levels for the last 3 months through a test known as HbA1c.
  • Lifestyle modification with dietary changes can help manage the risks of GDM and this in turn can help a mother to be healthy throughout her pregnancy and help her deliver a healthy baby. Maintenance of BMI during pregnancy also helps to minimise the onset of GDM.
  • Nutritional therapies and customised diet plans as per BMI and body type can help a woman manage all complications associated with gestational diabetes.
  • Physical exercise is known to cut down risks of developing GDM by controlling weight and improving glucose homeostasis (by enhancing insulin sensitivity). Healthy foods combined with adequate physical activities like walking, exercise, yoga are proven methods to manage GDM and can help mother and baby to be healthy throughout pregnancy and post-delivery too.
  • Medical therapies help when nutritional therapy fails. Women with high blood sugar levels during pregnancy can be put on safe treatment options to control GDM that may include medication or insulin shots that are safe for both mother and baby.
  • Postpartum follow-up is necessary to make sure that the mother and baby are healthy and prevention of diabetes later in life.

If all the above criteria are met, a mother with GDM can remain perfectly healthy and deliver a healthy child safely.