So, what is diabates? and what is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes affects how your cells use sugar (glucose), causing high blood sugar, which can affect your pregnancy and baby. Once you deliver your baby, your blood sugar levels will likely return to normal.
If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy, there are many things you can do to control the condition; eating a healthy diet and regular exercise (within your limitations) are a great place to start and can help prevent further complications.
But what signs should we be looking out for when it comes to gestational diabetes? And how can we manage the condition?
Keep reading to find out what you should look out for when it comes to gestational diabetes.
The symptoms of gestational diabetes are difficult to spot and can be very subtle. Some early warning signs might be increased thirst and frequent urination.
Because these signs are so subtle, it’s important to speak to your doctor early if you are pregnant and suspect that you’re experiencing them. If your doctor diagnoses you with gestational diabetes, it will mean regular check-ups so your doctor can monitor your blood sugar levels, as well as the health of your baby.
Diabetes Australia recommends all pregnant women should be tested for gestational diabetes at 24-28 weeks of pregnancy (except those women who already have diabetes) and those with high-risk factors should be tested earlier in their pregnancy.
Our blood sugar levels are regulated by our hormones, but because pregnancy affects hormone levels, it can make it harder for the body to process blood sugar efficiently.
When a woman is pregnant, the placenta produces hormones to help the baby grow. These hormones block a woman’s insulin, causing insulin resistance. Because of this resistance, the need for insulin is 2-3 times higher than normal; this is a problem if you already have insulin resistance, because your body can’t cope with the extra demand for insulin production, resulting in higher blood glucose levels.
Researchers are still unsure what exactly causes gestational diabetes, but one theory suggests that as the placenta grows, more hormones are produced, making the risk of insulin resistance greater as the production of excess insulin by the pancreas is not enough to overcome these placental hormones.
There are several risk factors involved with gestational diabetes, and if not managed correctly, they can lead to several complications for both you and your baby.
Gestational diabetes is diagnosed by an oral glucose tolerance test known as OGTT.
In this test, your blood will be taken to measure your fasting blood glucose level. When this is done, you’ll be given a sugary drink, and have your blood taken 1-2 hours later.
If your blood glucose level is above the normal range when you’re in a fasted state (so, no food since the night before), as well as 1-2 hours later, it means you have gestational diabetes.
If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, the important thing is not to panic. Many women go on to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
Treatment of gestational diabetes will involve monitoring your blood glucose levels quite closely, as well as following an eating plan such as Defeat Diabetes. Gentle exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can also help get your gestational diabetes under control.
Along with these treatment methods, your emotional health also plays a huge part in your overall wellbeing and helps reduce your stress.
Some of these factors are:
Gestational diabetes can quite often be managed with a healthy diet and regular exercise, but there are other things you can do to minimise your risk of developing gestational diabetes now and in future pregnancies.
The team at Defeat Diabetes, supported by the latest evidence and a medical advisory panel of dietitians and doctors, believe diet is the single most important element in managing gestational diabetes.
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