Gestational Diabetes Definition
Gestational diabetes is a diabetes that appears during pregnancy, and only lasts until the process of childbirth. The condition can occur at any gestational age, but usually lasts in the 24th to 28th weeks of pregnancy.
Similar to regular diabetes, gestational diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin to control glucose (sugar) levels in the blood during pregnancy. The condition can harm the mother and child, but it can be suppressed when dealt with quickly and appropriately.
Gestational Diabetes Symptoms
Symptoms of diabetes during pregnancy appear when blood sugar levels soar (hyperglycemia). These include:
- Often feeling thirsty
- Increased urination frequency
- Dry mouth
- The body is easily tired
- Blurred vision
Please note that not all of the above symptoms indicate gestational diabetes, as it can be experienced by pregnant women. Therefore, talk to the doctor if you have any of the above conditions.
Gestational Diabetes Causes
The exact cause of gestational diabetes to date is not yet clear. However, experts believe that diabetes in pregnant women occurs when the body is unable to make enough insulin during pregnancy.
Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas and it is tasked with converting glucose into energy while controlling blood sugar levels in the body.
During pregnancy, the mother’s placenta will produce different types of hormones to help the fetus develop. Unfortunately, there are a number of hormones that can inhibit the work of insulin in the mother’s body.
As a result, cells in the mother’s body become resistant to insulin. This causes blood sugar levels to rise, and the risk of diabetes increases.
In fact, all pregnant women will experience insulin resistance during the end of pregnancy. In some women, beta cells in the pancreas may be able to produce enough insulin to overcome such resistance.
Unfortunately, some women are unable to produce enough insulin. Well, these women will experience gestational diabetes.
Gestational Diabetes Risk Factors
In addition to pregnancy, the risk of pregnant women getting gestational diabetes will be higher if they have the following factors:
Has a history of gestational diabetes
The risk of developing gestational diabetes will be higher if in previous pregnancies have experienced this condition. So, it is necessary to check early and periodically if the pregnant woman has been diagnosed with this condition before.
Over 25 years old
Pregnant women over the age of 25 are more likely to develop gestational diabetes.
History of diabetes in the family
Pregnant women are more at risk of gestational diabetes if they have a family member with diabetes, or if they have given birth to a baby weighing more than 4.1 kg.
Obesity during pregnancy
Pregnant women need to control their weight by knowing their body mass index (BMI). If the body mass index is more than 30, pregnant women fall into the category of obesity. This overweight preganancy can increase the risk of gestational diabetes.
Has a history of certain diseases
A woman has a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes if she has previously suffered from certain diseases, such as hypertension, heart disorders, and PCOS.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects hormone levels in women. Pregnant women are at high risk of gestational diabetes if they have PCOS.
Gestational Diabetes Diagnosis
The necessary examination for gestational diabetes is an examination of blood sugar levels, internal organs, and muscles through ultrasound. This is to detect abnormalities in the fetus.
When you have started to feel the symptoms of gestational diabetes, immediately do a blood test to detect it. Most pregnant women experience similar symptoms in the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy. However, if you feel it early in pregnancy, the doctor may decide to test at the beginning of pregnancy.
When conducting the test, you will be given a sugary drink containing sugar and your blood will be taken within a period of every one hour for three times to test sugar levels. The blood sugar test can later help confirm the diagnosis. If the test results are found to be abnormal, you may develop gestational diabetes.
In addition, if you are detected to have complications in pregnancy, it is a good idea to do additional tests to find out the health of your fetus. This additional test is useful for checking the condition of the placenta cord which is the organ of oxygen and nutrition from mother to baby.
This is important because when you have gestational diabetes, a placenta cord that does not function properly can harm the survival of the fetus in the womb.
Gestational Diabetes Treatment
Treatment of gestational diabetes aims to control blood sugar levels and prevent complications of pregnancy and childbirth. The method of treatment can be diet, exercise, or medicine. Here is the explanation:
Your doctor will suggest dietary changes to control blood sugar levels. Patients will be encouraged to consume a lot of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. The doctor will also advise patients to limit the consumption of foods and drinks that contain saturated fat and high sugar.
Regular exercise during pregnancy can help lower blood sugar levels. Therefore, pregnant women are advised to consult a doctor regarding the type of exercise that is in accordance with health conditions.
In addition to lowering blood sugar, regular exercise can also relieve various complaints related to pregnancy, such as back pain, cramps, swollen legs, constipation, and insomnia.
If diet and exercise are not effective in dealing with gestational diabetes, your doctor may prescribe medications to lower blood sugar levels. The medication prescribed by the doctor is metformin. When needed, your doctor may also give you injectable insulin.
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