What is Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is diabetes that lasts during pregnancy until delivery. This condition generally occurs in the second or third trimester.

Gestational diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin to control blood glucose (sugar) levels during pregnancy. This condition is one of the complications of pregnancy that is dangerous for the health of the mother and baby.

What Causes Gestational Diabetes?

The cause of gestational diabetes is not known. However, this condition is thought to occur because the body produces more of the hormones estrogen, HPL (human placental lactogen), growth hormone, and cortisol, during pregnancy

An increase in the amount of this hormone makes it more difficult for the body to process blood sugar. This condition is known as insulin resistance. As a result, blood sugar levels increase and cause gestational diabetes complaints.

Risk Factors of Gestational Diabetes

There are several factors that can increase the risk of pregnant women developing gestational diabetes, including:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
  • Have a family who suffers from diabetes
  • Suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Have a history of high blood pressure or hypertension
  • Giving birth to a baby weighing more than 4.5 kg in a previous pregnancy

Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes

Symptoms of gestational diabetes appear when blood sugar levels are too high (hyperglycemia). These signs and symptoms include:

  • Often feel thirsty
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • dry mouth
  • Tired easily
  • Blurred vision

Please note that some of these symptoms are also common in pregnant women. Therefore, pregnant women are advised to consult a doctor and check themselves regularly.

When To Go To The Doctor

Immediately consult a doctor if you are pregnant and experience the above symptoms. The doctor will provide treatment and monitor blood sugar levels and the overall health of the mother and fetus.

It is important to know, pregnancy tests should have been carried out since you were positive for pregnancy and carried out regularly according to doctor’s recommendations. This will make it easier for your doctor to screen and control your blood sugar levels during pregnancy.

Diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes

To diagnose gestational diabetes, the doctor will ask questions about the symptoms experienced, as well as the patient’s and family’s medical history. After that, the doctor will perform screening and diagnostic tests.

Screening tests for gestational diabetes are performed at 24 weeks of gestation and above. This examination can also be performed on pregnant women who do not experience symptoms and a history of type 1 or 2 diabetes. These tests include:

  • Initial Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT)

In this test, the doctor will check the patient’s blood sugar level 1 hour before and after drinking the glucose solution. If the initial OGTT results show blood sugar levels above 130–140 mg/dL, the patient will be advised to undergo a follow-up OGTT.

  • Advanced Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT)

Advanced OGTT is performed by giving a glucose solution with a higher sugar content than the initial test. After that, the patient’s blood sugar level was checked three times in 3 hours. The patient is declared to have gestational diabetes if two examinations show high blood sugar levels.

In addition to an oral glucose tolerance test, the doctor will also perform other tests, including:

  • HbA1c test, to find out the average blood sugar level in the last 3 months
  • Urine test, to determine the levels of protein, ketones, and creatinine in the urine
  • Ultrasound of the womb, to measure the approximate length and weight of the fetus
  • Cardiac record, to detect cardiac abnormalities that may indicate complications of hyperglycemia

Treatment of Gestational Diabetes

Treatment of gestational diabetes aims to control blood sugar levels and prevent complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Treatment methods can include diet, exercise, or medication. Here is the explanation:

  1. Diet

The doctor will suggest dietary changes to control blood sugar levels. Patients will be advised to eat lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. Doctors will also advise patients to limit the consumption of foods and drinks that contain saturated fat and high sugar.

  1. Sport

Regular exercise during pregnancy can help lower blood sugar levels. Therefore, pregnant women are advised to consult a doctor regarding the type of exercise that suits their health conditions.

Besides being able to lower blood sugar, regular exercise can also relieve various pregnancy-related complaints, such as back pain, cramps, swollen legs, constipation, and insomnia.

  1. Drugs

If diet and exercise are not effective in treating gestational diabetes, your doctor may prescribe medications to lower blood sugar levels. The medicine prescribed by the doctor is metformin. If needed, the doctor can also give insulin injections.

Complications of Gestational Diabetes

Untreated gestational diabetes can lead to a number of health complications for both mother and baby. Complications of gestational diabetes that can occur in pregnant women include:

  • Preeclampsia
  • Cesarean delivery
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Risk of gestational diabetes in subsequent pregnancies

Meanwhile, complications of gestational diabetes that can occur in infants, namely:

  • Born with excess weight
  • Born prematurely
  • Jaundice or jaundice
  • Died in the womb or shortly after birth
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Low blood sugar or hypoglycemia
  • Type 2 diabetes later in life

Prevention of Gestational Diabetes

It is not known exactly how to prevent gestational diabetes. However, there are several efforts that can be done to reduce the risk of developing gestational diabetes, namely:

  • Eat a complete and balanced nutritious diet, especially vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
  • Limit consumption of fast food and foods or drinks that contain high sugar
  • Eat in small portions, but more often
  • Eat on a regular schedule
  • Regular exercise either before or during pregnancy according to health conditions
  • Start pregnancy with ideal weight
  • Avoid excessive weight gain during pregnancy

Dr. Eka

A doctor, wife and mother of three. Spread the world with valid information.

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