Diabetes During Pregnancy - Causes, Diagnosis & Treatments You Should Be Aware Of

Diabetes During Pregnancy

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A baby is a blessing – there is no denying that fact! Pregnancy is a wondrous journey. But it is fraught with complications. Your body is at its most fragile during pregnancy. While some problems are mere nuisance, others can prove to be pretty risky.

One of the more common pregnancy problems is Gestational Diabetes (GD).

The word diabetes can scare many. But you don’t need to have diabetes to get gestational diabetes! Many healthy women end up with GD while they are pregnant. Gestational diabetes in pregnancy can cause many complications and need to be treated on time. Read more on diabetes and pregnancy.

What Causes Gestational Diabetes During Pregnancy?

Many women suffer from diabetes. Whether it is type 1 or type 2, diabetes requires lifestyle changes. But gestational diabetes is a different ball game altogether. Experts are still not sure what exactly causes gestational diabetes. But it is helpful to understand how glucose impacts your body while you are pregnant.

The food you eat is digested by your body and produces glucose, which enters your bloodstream. This nudges the pancreas into action to make insulin. Insulin is an important hormone that shifts the glucose from your bloodstream and into the cells. The cells then use this glucose to make energy that fuels the body.

But when you are pregnant, things change. Now the placenta comes into the picture and starts pumping a number of other hormones. Many of these hormones hamper the working of insulin, leading to a raised level of glucose in your bloodstream.

At the beginning of your pregnancy, the change is only minor. But as it progresses, the placenta goes into hyper mode and produce more and more insulin-blocking hormones. When the level of blood sugar crosses the danger mark, you develop gestational diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes – Who Is At Risk?

Anyone can develop gestational diabetes. But if you fall into any of the following categories, you are at an increased risk.

1. Age: If you are older than 25, Gestational Diabetes will become a real threat to your pregnancy (1).

2. Family History: If anybody in your family has diabetes, you are at an increased risk of developing GD (2).

3. Pre-diabetes: If you already have elevated blood glucose levels, although slight, your risk of developing GD goes up manifold (3).

4. History Of GD: If you were unlucky enough to get GD during a past pregnancy, chances are high that you’ll get it this time around too.

5. Excess Weight: If you are overweight or obese, you are more likely to get GD (4).

6. Nativity: Caucasian women are relatively safe from GD. Black, Hispanic, and Asian women are at a greater risk of developing gestational diabetes (5).

Symptoms Of Gestational Diabetes During Pregnancy:

So, how do you know if you have gestational diabetes? Check out for the symptoms listed below to get a diagnosis:

  • Sugar in urine
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Frequent infections of the bladder, vagina, and skin
  • Blurred vision

If you experience these symptoms, it’ll be wise to check with your health care provider. In any case, you’ll be checked for gestational diabetes as part of your routine pregnancy tests.

Diagnosing Gestational Diabetes:

It is always better to start early, when it comes to your health. If you are trying for a baby, see a doctor before you conceive. This will enable your doctor to ensure that you are in good shape for the forthcoming pregnancy.

Once you are pregnant, your doctor will keep an eye on your sugar levels. Most tests for gestational diabetes are conducted in the last three months of the pregnancy. Some of the tests that are used to diagnose gestational diabetes include:

1. Initial Glucose Challenge Test:

This is an unpleasant test but an important one. For this test, you’ll need to drink a syrupy glucose solution. An hour later, your blood will be tested to check for blood glucose level. If the test shows that your blood glucose level is higher than normal, it indicates that you are at risk of developing gestational diabetes. The only way to get 100% diagnosis is to get a glucose tolerance test.

[ Read: Tests During Pregnancy First Trimester ]