Gestational Diabetes Causes and Signs – What Do You Need to Know?
Gestational diabetes is when a woman who is not diabetic develops diabetes during pregnancy. Normally it goes away after the birth of her child. If it does not, then the mother is a true diabetic. Today we will focus briefly about Gestational Diabetes causes and signs.
Every woman’s body is different, but there is a certain similarity to all pregnant women. The bodies of pregnant women handle the intake of sugar, more like a diabetic than a non diabetic. This is due to hormonal changes which take place during pregnancy.
One hormone which is necessary for the baby’s growth is human placental lactogen. This hormone is produced by the placenta (thus its name). It is necessary for good carbohydrate metabolism.
The hormone provides glucose (sugar) which the baby needs for rapid growth. Progesterone, estirol and free cortisol are produced in large quantities and contribute to the diabetic symptoms of a previously non diabetic woman.
Pregnant diabetics are not often diagnosed via a routine urine test. For this reason doctors are now testing pregnant women for gestational diabetes by blood analysis, which is more accurate.
A blood-sugar test is taken somewhere between the twenty-eighth and thirty-second week of pregnancy. The test is more reliable at this time, given that this is the height of the hormones production.
Women are particularly at risk for gestational diabetes are; those who have delivered large babies in the past, (Nine pounds or more, God bless them), if you have a history of diabetic pregnancies, had an elevated blood sugar level, or in your urine sometime in the past.
If you are detected as having gestational diabetes, your treatment will be the same as a woman who is normally diabetic before pregnancy.
The test for gestational diabetes is simple. Blood is drawn two hours after having eaten a large meal or you may be asked to drink a very sugary drink called Glucola. Glucola is often is flavored like soda.
Yuck by the way. (It was years before I could enjoy root beer, after taking this test.) Should the blood test be border line, and you are ‘lucky’ you may be required to take the test a second time. Yum!
The second time around the test will take three to four hours. Your doctor will want to see if your body is handling sugar as a diabetic or non diabetic.
If you are wondering about the numbers, they are as follows; over 200mg percent of sugar equals diabetic. If you fasted the night before the glucose test, and your number is 140mg, you are diabetic. Don’t despair.
Knowledge is power. Just so you know; the chances of your baby dying before you deliver are no greater than the chances of a baby whose mother is non diabetic.
The fear is that you will convert from a gestational diabetic to a full blown one after pregnancy. With the help of your physician, you can move ahead positively. Take care to pay attention to his orders.
The first change you will possibly encounter is the frequency with which you will see your physician. From the thirty fourth week and beyond you will be required to make a weekly doctor’s visit.
If your diabetes is severe, the chances are greater that your baby will experience problems. You must adhere to whatever is prescribed by your doctor.
The biggest challenge the doctor will likely lay before you is healthy eating. Healthy eating for a pregnant diabetic may differ slightly from what is considered healthy by a non diabetic mom.
Your obstetrician will likely tell you to eliminate all sweets; no soft drinks, ice cream, cakes, cookies etc. This is not to limit caloric intake but to help your body regulate sweets.
Remember your pregnant body is producing hormones which are contributing to the carbohydrate levels. This is automatic. You must control what you can. Do this by obeying the doctor’s order. No added sweets.
Your doctor does not want you to lose weight. You will likely be asked to consume 50% complex carbohydrates (excluding heavy sweets), 30% fat and 20% protein. If this is confusing to you, contact a dietician for help. You may also reference the food pyramid.
Do not ignore the diagnosis which was supported by your glucose test. If you behave as if there is no problem, one which is more serious will occur. You may wish to receive added attention from a doctor who specializes in internal medicine and is an obstetrician.
You do not have to fire your regular OBGYN. The two can work in tandem as a team, to achieve the healthy delivery of your baby.
The care for the unborn infant of a diabetic mother includes:
- Testing to evaluate the health and possible intrauterine stress on the baby. This is performed during the last six weeks of pregnancy.
- Management which will lessen the risks of prematurity.
- To alleviate the possibility of injury to the child during birth a Cesarean section may be required.
- Testing, such as the measurement of hormone levels, and a contraction stress test.
I am not negating the seriousness of your situation, but gestational diabetes is not the end of the world for you and your baby. As previously stated; ‘knowledge is power.’ Take what you know and face your challenges head on. It will make all the difference in the world.
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