Diabetes is a condition in which your body cannot produce sufficient insulin or use insulin properly. Insulin is a peptide hormone that allows glucose in the blood to enter cells for energy your body needs to function. When glucose can't enter the cells, a high level of sugar builds up in the blood. This condition is called diabetes. There are three types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes – an autoimmune disorder
  • Type 2 diabetes – an autoimmune disease
  • Gestational diabetes – occurs during pregnancy

Here is everything you need to know about gestational diabetes!

What Is Gestational Diabetes?

It is a condition in which a non-diabetic woman develops high blood glucose levels during pregnancy. According to different studies, gestational diabetes affects nearly 10% of pregnancies every year.

Gestational diabetes is a temporary thing that typically develops during the middle of pregnancy, between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy. It affects moms-to-be who haven't ever been diagnosed with diabetes. It occurs when your body can't produce the extra insulin needed while pregnant. Gestational diabetes is often called glucose intolerance or carbohydrate intolerance while pregnant.

Complications Related to Gestational Diabetes

If not treated early, gestational diabetes can cause various health risks to both you and your baby.

Complications that may affect you:

  • Type 2 diabetes in the future
  • Having a surgical delivery (C-section)
  • High blood pressure and preeclampsia
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)

Complications that may affect your baby:

  • Excessive birth weight, 10 pounds or more
  • Serious breathing difficulties
  • Early (preterm) birth
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Stillbirth (fetal death)
  • Premature birth
  • Obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life
  • Birth injury
  • Congenital disabilities
  • Macrosomia
  • Preeclampsia
  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Jaundice

Getting Tested for Gestational Diabetes

All women get tested for gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Pregnant women with a high risk of developing gestational diabetes are often tested in the initial phase of pregnancy.

Generally, testing for gestational diabetes occurs between the 24th and 29th weeks of pregnancy. This is the time when the placenta is making hormones that increase insulin resistance. Therefore, most pregnant women catch gestational diabetes during this period.

The process of the Pregnancy Glucose Test includes:

1. Initial glucose screening test: It is a routine test to check the glucose level in blood during pregnancy. Avoid any changes to your diet before this test.

Test procedure:

  • You'll be given a concentrated sugar solution to drink.
  • You'll have a blood test after one hour to test your blood sugar levels.

If the result shows a high blood sugar level, a glucose tolerance test will confirm gestational diabetes.

2. A glucose tolerance test: Also known as the oral glucose tolerance test, this test is done to diagnose gestational diabetes. Consult your doctor first if you're taking any medicine. Avoid eating or drinking anything for 8 hours before the test.

Test procedure:

  • Blood will be drawn from a vein in your arm.
  • You'll be given a concentrated sugar solution to drink.
  • Your blood sugar will be rechecked after 2 hours.

Glucose Tolerance Test – above normal values:

  • Fasting: At or above 92 mg/dL
  • 1 hour: At or above 180 mg/dL
  • 2 hours: At or above 153 mg/dL
  • 3 hours: At or above 140 mg/dL

Signs & Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes usually doesn't show any symptoms. But some pregnant women may experience:

  • Excess thirst
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent urination
  • Frequent vaginal infections
  • High levels of fatigue
  • Nausea past the first trimester
  • Frequent bladder infections
  • Snoring
  • Frequent skin infections
  • Excessive hunger

What Causes Gestational Diabetes?

You're more likely to develop gestational diabetes if you:

  • Have a family history of diabetes
  • Are carrying multiples, such as triplets or twins
  • Are having high blood pressure, heart disease, or high cholesterol
  • Are taking glucocorticoids
  • Have a history of gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
  • Are more than 25 years old
  • Have gained too much weight while pregnant
  • Are having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Were overweight or obese before pregnancy
  • Are too inactive
  • Have previous birth of a baby weighing 4 Kgs or more
  • Had an unexplained miscarriage or stillbirth
  • Are Asian, Pacific Islander, African-American, Alaska Native, Hispanic, or Native American
  • Are mother of a newborn with certain birth defects

Ways to Prevent or Treat Gestational Diabetes

The treatment and prevention of gestational diabetes during pregnancy depends on:

  • Your age
  • Your symptoms
  • Your general health
  • How severe the condition is

You can lower your risk of developing gestational diabetes by:

  • Exercising Regularly. You can try swimming, walking, and prenatal yoga.
  • Eating a healthy fiber-rich diet with low amounts of carbohydrate foods and drinks
  • Starting pregnancy at a healthy weight
  • Not gaining more weight than recommended during pregnancy
  • Monitoring blood glucose levels regularly
  • Taking insulin injections, if required
  • Taking oral medicines for hypoglycemia

What If You Are Diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes has been divided into two classes:

Class A1: Can be controlled through diet and exercise.

Class A2: You'll need insulin or other types of oral medications to control the condition.

Thus, diagnosis of gestational diabetes include:

  • Blood sugar monitoring
  • Lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise
  • Medications, if necessary

No matter which class of gestational diabetes you have developed, chances are you'll not experience it after childbirth. However, the condition puts you at high risk of catching type 2 diabetes as you get older. It is recommended you check your blood sugar levels a couple of months after your delivery.

Gestational Diabetes Post Delivery

For most women, gestational diabetes goes away soon after the baby is born. However, it increases your risk of catching type 2 diabetes post-delivery. It is recommended that you should have a fasting blood sugar test between 6–13 weeks postpartum.

Nearly half of women who developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy have type 2 diabetes later in life. So you should get tested every three years for type 2 diabetes.

Be Cautious & Flaunt Your Bump in Style

Having gestational diabetes doesn't mean you have to compromise your sense of style. You can always look fashionable with stylish pregnancy wear designed to keep you comfortable throughout your pregnancy. Consider purchasing a couple of trendy maternity clothes you can wear from bump to baby.

You can choose from a vast assortment of comfortable and fashionable maternity wear available online. These include but are not limited to stretchable maternity yoga wear, loungewear, nightwear, kaftans, dresses, jeans, leggings, pants, two-piece maternity co-ord sets, and more. All you need to do is make the right choice according to your comfort and style.

Author's Bio: 

I'm Darfashan Parveen, a passionate blogger, associated with WobblyWalk.com – India’s Leading Maternity & Nursing Wear Brand. I love to read and write about Pregnancy, Parenting, and Baby Care to make people aware of parenthood challenges and easy ways to overcome them. Apart from Blogging, I'm a foodie who loves travelling and dancing.