What Are the Risks of Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes, the form of the condition which affects just pregnant women, is believed to occur in 10 percent of expectant mothers. There is some good news, which is that it usually disappears after you’ve given birth, but it can make your pregnancy more trying. Having a good understanding of the condition and how to live with it is the best port of call, as this will ensure you don’t take any risks with you or your baby’s health during this time. When you eat food, your body breaks it down into simple sugars or glucose which is turned into energy. Insulin makes sure that this is readily absorbed into the cells so that it can be utilised, but when you have diabetes the body doesn’t produce enough insulin. This means that too much glucose stays in the blood and in pregnant women, the hormonal changes can incur a change in the insulin production. You usually have a blood sugar test when you’re at 24 to 28 weeks pregnant, which will reveal if you have high levels of glucose in your blood. If this is the case, your GP will recommend a glucose tolerance test to determine if you have gestational diabetes. You could be more at risk if you’re obese and have a BMI of over 30, if you have a family history of diabetes, if you have high blood pressure, or if you’ve given birth to a very large baby before – this would be a child of over eight or nine pounds.
So how does it affect your baby? For most women who develop gestational diabetes, the infants are born without any health problems. Your GP will advise of strict dietary changes and safe exercises so that you can bring your blood sugar levels down. They may even suggest medication in certain cases. Controlling your blood sugar levels is vital in order to keep you and your baby healthy. If you don’t achieve this, you risk too much glucose ending up in the blood of your baby which puts more stress on their developing pancreas’ to produce enough insulin to cope. In some cases, the baby becomes overweight in the womb, and then this makes labour more difficult. Your GP will advise of the ways to keep your blood sugars down, but this will include eating a balanced diet which has the right quantities of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, as well as all of the essential vitamins and minerals. They’ll advise of the best safe exercises to increase your heart rate and improve your body’s reaction to insulin, too. If these changes fail to make a difference to your diabetes, they will prescribe shots of insulin to bring the glucose levels down.
The right diet can be enormously helpful in controlling this problem, and will help you avoid any medications or insulin injections as well. Some of the best ways include lowering your intake of carbs, which turn into glucose in the body. You shouldn’t skip any meals or snacks, as you need to stick to a balanced eating plan. Your blood sugar levels only stabilise if you eat smaller quantities and eat at regular times, every day. So, it isn’t just the right meal plan which is important, but also how you eat it – this includes eating breakfast every day. With your beverages, you should avoid those which have simple sugars in them – this includes flavoured water, juices, flavoured teas and aerated drinks. If you really can’t do without your sweet fix, ask your GP if you can use sweeteners, or you can switch to honey.