Gestational diabetes is a temporary form of diabetes that occurs during a woman’s pregnancy when she is unable to produce sufficient quantities of insulin, resulting in increased levels of blood sugar. It is important to obtain adequate gestational diabetes treatment, since the condition can cause serious complications is left untreated and unmanaged.
The first challenge is to detect gestational diabetes – it occurs in women who did not previously have diabetes and may have few or no symptoms. Routine blood sugar screening is done at about 24 weeks of pregnancy to detect diabetes if any, to see if gestational diabetes treatment is required for a given pregnancy.
Risk factors for gestational diabetes
Women who are seen to be at higher risk of developing pregnancy diabetes should be screened earlier on in their pregnancy. If a woman has a strong history of diabetes in her family then this can be a warning sign.
Older mothers (women over 35) are more at risk, as are obese women or women with high blood pressure. Also women who have rapidly gained unusual amounts of weight in the first trimester of their pregnancy are thought to be at risk and are more likely to need gestational diabetes treatment.
Previous pregnancies can also predict chances of diabetes – having had diabetes during a previous pregnancy, or having had an unusually large baby (over 4 kilos) previously, or if a woman has had a still born baby or one with a birth defect, these are reasons to be more careful.
What the mother to be can do to manage gestational diabetes
If diabetes is detected during pregnancy, a woman will have to control and amend her diet so that it is more balanced and healthy and contains a lesser proportion of carbohydrates and sugar. It is also important for women to eat regular, smaller meals to keep blood sugar levels stable as part of their gestational diabetes treatment.
Women are advised to keep their weight gain under control and make sure that they take regular exercise – low impact exercises such as walking and swimming are highly recommended during pregnancy. Also women are required to get regular medical checkups so that required diabetes treatment can be started/continued as required.
Gestational diabetes treatment
A pregnancy is more frequently and carefully monitored if diabetes has been detected – weight gain, blood sugar levels and other parameters are checked. This monitoring is done to see that the blood sugar levels are not out of control and it is an important part of managing diabetes during pregnancy.
Sometimes lifestyle and dietary alterations may not be adequate to control the diabetes, in 15% cases of gestational diabetes, women have to be administered insulin. Women may be required to take insulin shots. In some cases oral insulin medication may be prescribed.
After the pregnancy
Women who develop gestational diabetes are seen to be more at risk of having diabetes after the arrival of their baby, though a majority of women find that their blood sugar stabilizes after the baby’s arrival. So it is not just the gestational diabetes treatment that is important, the follow up testing a couple of months after the delivery is also required. Women are also advised to breastfeed to reduce risk of their baby developing diabetes.