Pregnancy is a very happy, emotional, and challenging time for a mother-to-be. However, this is also when a woman’s body goes through millions of changes to prepare for the baby and nourish it for the next nine months.
Along with physical changes like growing belly, breasts, uterus, and heavy feet, many internal changes also occur, such as extreme emotions due to high hormone levels, morning sickness, mental anxiety, stress, breakdowns, tiredness, and feeling uncomfortable. All of this comes with the package of pregnancy.
However, this package is quite difficult to handle and requires proper attention since there are a lot of risks involved as well. Apart from taking precautions to prevent any external injuries to the mother, care must be taken to avoid any internal diseases. Being at a vulnerable stage, the chances of such internal ailment are higher.
One such disease is gestational diabetes.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
The gestation period is when the child develops inside the mother’s body, also known as pregnancy. Diabetes is a chronic disease with high blood sugar levels in the body, posing a risk to the heart.
Gestational diabetes is a high blood sugar level during pregnancy. Fortunately, this type of diabetes is not as dangerous as a normal case of diabetes, but it is no less worrisome. It can have harmful effects on the mother and the baby and must be remedied as quickly as possible.
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Main Causes of Gestational Diabetes
The main reason why gestational diabetes occurs in some women and doesn’t occur in others is still unknown to doctors. However, there is one main cause that leads to the occurrence of this disease in the body of a few women.
Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas to break down glucose or sugar in our body into energy used by various organs for different purposes. During pregnancy, the hormone levels increase tremendously in the pregnant lady’s body which causes the body’s ability to use insulin effectively to decrease. This scenario is referred to as insulin resistance.
As a result, the amount of insulin required by the body increases even beyond the normal levels since insulin is not utilized effectively; the blood sugar level increases and causes gestational diabetes. While some women develop insulin resistance after entering into pregnancy, others have it even before the pregnancy and thus have a higher risk of gestational diabetes.
What are the warning signs of gestational diabetes?
There are no signs or symptoms of gestational disease; hence, the only way to detect it is through a sugar or glucose level test at 28-48 weeks of pregnancy. If the test results indicate a high blood sugar level, then you have Gestational Diabetes.
Some women also show certain symptoms of Gestational Diabetes, which can be confirmed with a proper test. These include:
- Excessive Thirst – Having a dry throat every time is a sign of Gestational Diabetes
- Increased Urination – Going to the bathroom an excessive number of times a day is also not healthy
- Increased Tiredness- While pregnancies are tiring with gestational diabetes or without it, feeling tired more than normal is a sign of concern.
If you face any of the above-mentioned symptoms, even if they are just false intuition, do not take a risk and get yourself tested at the earliest. Prevention is better than cure.
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Who is at high risk for gestational diabetes?
“The Risk Factors Associated With Gestational Diabetes”
The risk factors associated with Gestational Diabetes are as follows:
- If you are above 25 years of age
- If you are overweight
- If you’re not active
- If you have prediabetes ( a condition where the blood sugar level is high but not as high as to cause diabetes)
- If you have a close family member suffering from Type 2 diabetes
- If you have had gestational diabetes before
- If you have delivered a baby weighing more than 9 pounds or 4.2 kg
- If you have high blood pressure, heart-related problems, or other medical conditions
- If you have had miscarriages or stillbirths before
- If you belong to non-white ethnicity such as African, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic, etc.
- If you have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) or any other conditions causing insulin resistance
What To Eat When On A Gestational Diabetes Diet
Most cases of Gestational Diabetes are mild and can be cured if appropriate care is taken, especially regarding diet and meals included during pregnancy.
Certain food habits that can help you overcome the disease are:
- Eat small portion sizes
- Reduce the amount of added or artificial sugar entering your body and if need be, replace it with natural and healthy sugar items like fruits, dates, raisins, jaggery, coconut sugar, etc.
- Eat a good amount of fiber to nourish your body. It can be gained from eating whole wheat, oatmeals, fruits and vegetables, cereals, etc.
- Reduce the number of fats that can lead you to gain weight
- Take 2-3 meals daily with three healthy snacks without starving yourself or overeating
- Have a balanced diet with adequate carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, protein, and minerals.
Along with eating right, staying active and starting pregnancy with the right physical and mental condition can help you prevent Gestational Diabetes and other diseases associated with pregnancy or life.
Incidences of Gestational Diabetes have been increasing over the past few years, causing harm not only to the mothers but also to their babies. They are born with excessive weight, low sugar levels, increased risk of Type-2 diabetes and obesity, breathing difficulties, etc. While the mother also suffers from high blood pressure and sugar in the future.
Even during pregnancies, difficulties may arise regarding having to do C-sections or having stillbirths. Thus, women should take proper care of themselves. Exercising daily, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding eating junk food should become a matter of habit for a healthy you and your baby.