India has a huge caseload of diabetics, second only to China. As you may already know, it is a chronic disease characterized by high blood glucose levels. If left untreated, it can lead to kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and even blindness. What many associate with diabetes is type-1 and type-2. Although the former is usually diagnosed in childhood or adulthood, the latter is more common in the 40’s and 50’s. Both sexes can suffer. But, did you know that there is another type of diabetes that affects only women, especially pregnant women? This is called gestational diabetes, which usually goes away after the baby is born. However, if left unmanaged, they can be left astray and lose the right path. So is it better to take steps to prevent it? How to do it, talked to Onlymyhealth Dr. J. Chordia, Consultant, Endocrinology, Pars JK Hospital, Udaipur.
Symptoms of gestational diabetes
According to international guidelines, every pregnant woman should have her blood sugar levels checked between 24 and 28 weeks of gestation. This is the primary way to diagnose gestational diabetes in women. They must also look for diabetes-related symptoms, including:
- If you urinate frequently
- Often thirsty
- Women gain weight during pregnancy. However, if you do not gain the ideal weight, it can be a sign of gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes: risk factors
(Photo credit: Fripik)
Every pregnant woman should have her blood sugar level checked every three trimesters. However, some women who are at high risk for diabetes must take special care. Risk factors for gestational diabetes include:
- If you have polycystic ovary disease (PCOD), which can cause insulin resistance, thus, you increase your risk of diabetes.
- If anyone in your family suffers from diabetes.
- If you are overweight or obese.
Whether you are at risk or not, you must have your blood sugar levels checked regularly, advises Dr. Cordia.
How does gestational diabetes affect the baby?
(Photo credit: Fripik)
Diabetes and pregnancy can have two causes:
- A woman develops diabetes during pregnancy.
- A woman with diabetes becomes pregnant.
In either case, you must take steps to manage the disease. Otherwise, it can have serious effects on the baby. In the worst case scenario, the fetus may die in the womb. To ensure any catastrophic consequences, doctors advise expectant mothers to keep an eye on the number of fetal kicks, especially towards the end of the trimester. Uncontrolled diabetes can also cause fetal complications.
Read more: Exercising in the first trimester can prevent gestational diabetes: study
How to prevent gestational diabetes?
Preventing gestational diabetes usually requires the same strategies and efforts as preventing diabetes, such as building a healthy lifestyle. So:
- Eat balanced and nutritious foods with plenty of seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.
- Exercise regularly. Each workout of at least 150 minutes is generally recommended.
- Stress has led to a number of health problems. Its management is also very important for diabetes. So, meditate, do yoga, engage in recreational activities, or choose a healthy alternative that helps control stress.
- Adequate sleep is also important for a healthy body and a healthy mind. So get the necessary 7-8 hours of sleep every day.
Also, if you are trying to get pregnant, reduce the risk factors. Therefore, if you are obese, lose weight before pregnancy. Also, take steps to manage PCOD. This will help you ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy.
(With input from Dr. J. Chordia, Consultant, Endocrinology, Pars JK Hospital, Udaipur)
Photo Credit: Fripik