Last year, when my elder sister was pregnant with her second child, we witnessed “hunger-pangs-gone-rogue” kind of a behavior.
Merely two months into her pregnancy and she was feeding her body every hour. This routine wore her out and she was tired of making a pig of herself.
She brought this to her doctor’s notice and the results were truly unexpected. She was suffering from Gestational Diabetes.
Since, neither of our parents had diabetes, being diagnosed with gestational diabetes was startling.
What we, or particularly I, was more worried about was its effect on her baby. It took me back to my ninth grade when my friend was diagnosed with diabetes, simply because her mother got gestational diabetes when she was carrying my friend.
Stressful as it was, I decided to educate myself and my sister about this condition and save us all from this misery. Today’s post is based on what I learnt during my research.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational Diabetes is exactly like usual diabetes (blood glucose level soaring higher than normal), except the fact that it happens particularly during pregnancy. The good news is, that most of the times it goes off on its own after the delivery of the baby.
Do I have Gestational Diabetes?
That’s the funny part – you may not know at all that you have it.
Like in my sister’s case, an unusual eating pattern made the doctor doubt the presence of Gestational Diabetes, otherwise, there are no strong symptoms.
Your gynecologist, however, would recommend a GTT (Glucose Tolerance Test), anywhere between 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy, to clear all such doubts.
My suggestion: If your parents or any of your close relatives have diabetes then you should inform your gynecologist about it and go for a GTT.
Can Gestational Diabetes affect my baby?
I found that it can affect the baby in more than one ways, though not necessarily all:
- Your baby can become overweight even while in womb. This can create problems during labor.
- It can also affect your baby’s red blood cell count, a condition called polycythemia.
- The blood calcium levels may drop in the baby with an increased risk of jaundice.
- In some rare cases, it can also affect the baby’s brain and heart, or lead to a condition called pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure with presence of large amounts of protein in the urine).
I know, all this does sound scary, but its prevalence is only 4-9% in expectant mothers. So, with proper diet and exercise, gestational diabetes can be kept under check and all these problems can be kept at bay.
I have Gestational Diabetes. What next?
- If possible, get a food chart done by your gynecologist and follow it as religiously as you can.
- Always remind yourself, that it’s just a matter of months and you are doing all of it for your baby.
- You will have to take some extra effort of eating a particular type of food items and avoiding certain food groups. E.g.: Avoid simple carbohydrates (especially during morning breakfast) and foods that bring peaks in blood sugar levels.
Exercise is very important during pregnancy and gets all the more important during a pregnancy with Gestational Diabetes.
Your gynecologist might prescribe you medicines to keep your diabetes under check. Just make sure that these are safe for you and your baby and take them as instructed, to keep your sugar levels under check.
7 things ‘never’ to forget
First: If you have been detected with Gestational diabetes, do not delay taking the treatment at all. Rush to the doctor, take advice, tips, recommendations and get to work as soon as possible.
Second: Keeping your weight under check, during pregnancy and in your future life as a mother, is very important to keep the disease away from you.
Third: Breastfeeding can act as a strong protection for both, you and your baby. Your baby will gain the required nutrients and strength from breastfeeding and you will be able to lose all the extra weight by breastfeeding.
Fourth: Keep your child’s weight under check as well and make every effort to keep her physically active. This will prevent her from getting Diabetes in her future life.
Fifth: Quit smoking if you are a regular smoker. This increases the risk of Gestational Diabetes as well as having Diabetes after your baby’s delivery.
Sixth: Women over 35 are at higher risk of having Gestational Diabetes, so plan your babies earlier!
Seventh: If you’ve had Gestational Diabetes in your previous pregnancy, then there is a possibility of getting it in your next one too.
If tackled patiently, wisely and in a disciplined manner, Gestational Diabetes is no tough nut to crack. All you have to keep in mind is, that you have to make every possible effort to fight it.
You’re not doing it for anyone else, but only and only for your baby.