By Dr. Chinthu Madeswaran, Gynaecology
Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes where the blood sugar levels of the body increase during pregnancy. When you are expecting, your body is more repellent to insulin so that a larger amount of glucose is manufactured for the baby’s nourishment. However, this excess blood glucose can build up within the body which causes gestational diabetes. This can lead to health problems for both the mother and the baby. At the end of the gestational period i.e. once the baby is delivered, blood sugar reduces to normal.
When are you at a risk for gestational diabetes?
- Gestational diabetes can also be hereditary. If a family member or a relative has diabetes, you are more likely to develop gestational diabetes.
- If you are overweight, you are more susceptible to developing gestational diabetes.
During pregnancy, the placenta connects your baby to the blood supply. This produces other hormones which reduce the levels of insulin. This increases the level of blood sugar in your blood. As your baby develops, your body manufactures more of such hormones which block your insulin levels leading to gestational diabetes. This usually occurs from the 20th week of your pregnancy.
- Increase in Birth Weight – Extra glucose crosses through the placenta which instigates the baby’s pancreas to manufacture more insulin. This can make your baby very large. Sometimes, it becomes difficult for the baby to pass through the birth canal during childbirth as a result.
- Premature Birth and Respiratory Diseases – High blood sugar may increase the risk of early labour. It may make the baby due before the 37th week of pregnancy. This also makes the baby more susceptible to respiratory disorders.
- High Blood Pressure – Gestational diabetes also raises your risks for high blood pressure. This can be fatal for you as well as your baby’s health.
- Book an appointment with a dietitian and follow a healthy eating schedule. Limit the number of carbohydrates and ensure you have a healthy and balanced meal.
- Do light exercises regularly during pregnancy. This helps you to control your blood sugar level. Physical activities which require low levels of energy utilization such as swimming and walking will control your blood sugar level without exerting you too much.
- Taking insulin shots and medicine for diabetes will also control your blood sugar levels if you have a pre-existing condition.