All pregnant women typically have higher than normal levels of blood sugar due to the hormonal changes during pregnancy; however gestational diabetes during pregnancy occurs in the case of 3 to 10% of pregnancies when the woman is not able to secrete the excess insulin required.
Possible complications of gestational diabetes in pregnancy
Babies born to mothers who have gestational diabetes may be very large for their gestational age (which increases chances of a C section or risk of trauma in case of vaginal delivery), or may be risk of developing jaundice or low blood sugar.
Diabetes during the first trimester of pregnancy could also increase chances of a miscarriage or birth defects.
Though with proper care, it is possible for pregnant women with gestational diabetes to deliver a perfectly healthy baby. However, it is a good idea to try and avoid this condition. The following tips help you to avoid diabetes during pregnancy-
Know your risk factors
If a woman has a family history of diabetes, she is more at risk of developing gestational diabetes. If she has previously had a very large baby or has previous had a still born baby, she is more at risk.
Overweight women are also more likely to develop the condition, as are women belonging to certain ethnic groups; viz, Asian, Hispanic, Black or Native American. Women with high blood pressure or women over the age of 35 are also seen to be more at risk.
Having said this, in many cases, women have gestational diabetes during pregnancy even if they don’t have any of the other risk factors. Pregnancy Screening is the key to detecting the condition since it is largely asymptomatic – unless a woman is tested for it, it is unlikely to come to light.
So when a woman exhibits the above risk factors she is tested early on in pregnancy (typically testing for gestational diabetes is done at about 28 weeks gestation) to try and control the situation and avoid complications.
General tips to try and avoid gestational diabetes during pregnancy
- Getting appropriate screening for gestational diabetes is among the most important ways to detect the condition early and to get it in control; so that possible complications can be avoided.
- Since being overweight is a strong risk factor for developing this condition, try and get to a healthy weight before getting pregnant.
- Follow the gestational diabetes diet, to try and prevent the condition from occurring or control gestational diabetes in way that doesn’t have negative impacts. This will help in controlling blood sugar even before you get pregnant, lowering chances of developing.
- Unless there is a reason why exercise is contraindicated for a given pregnancy, exercising each day can help to reduce risk. Do whatever works for you – swimming, walking, step exercises – but make sure that you exercise regularly.
- If required medications and supplements can help prevent the condition or at lease manage it if it occurs.
- If a woman had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy, appropriate tests should be carried out prior to becoming pregnant again.
- Pre pregnancy counseling in multiple disciplines can also help to have positive outcomes with lower chances of gestational diabetes during pregnancy or help in more effective management.