5 simple steps to prevent gestational diabetes

Even if you start your pregnancy on a healthy note, there are still plenty of reasons to take enough care of your health for the sake of both fetal and maternal well-being. This is because some pregnancy complications can show up midway during the course of nine months and might have adverse consequences on both you and your baby. One such complication that women suffer from during pregnancy is gestational diabetes.

This type of diabetes happens to women who were not diabetic during the time of conception and the initial months of pregnancy. According to statistics more than 1,00,000 pregnant women develop gestational diabetes in India alone. It usually develops in the middle of the pregnancy when hormones interfere with the body s ability to use insulin, says Dr Pradeep Gadge, diabetologist, Shreya Diabetes Centre, Mumbai.

In gestational diabetes, the mother s body either doesn t produce enough insulin or produces it sufficiently which the body isn t able to use to the optimum. This results in higher levels of blood glucose or sugar accumulation in her bloodstream leading to a condition called hyperglycemia.

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In a general scenario, diabetes occurs in about one in 20 pregnancies and goes away after the delivery. At times elevated sugar or blood glucose levels can take a toll on the body as well as the baby. General weight gain and hormonal changes during pregnancy is thought to be a reason behind gestational diabetes, however what causes gestational diabetes is not completely known. Here are a few things you can do to prevent diabetes during pregnancy.

Plan a healthy pregnancy: Before you conceive take conscious efforts to keep your weight in check and talk to your doctor about the various health issues and complications that can occur during pregnancy, advices Dr Gadge. This is an essential step even if you have a low risk of developing gestational diabetes.

Test your blood sugar levels regularly: Check your blood sugar levels at least three months before conception to see if your levels are under normal range. Proper diet and exercise can help you keep your blood sugar levels in control naturally. If you find it difficult to exercise every day, make sure that you are active at least for two hours and thirty minutes each week, which will help you to keep your blood sugar levels in control. In case you suffer from gestational diabetes use a glucose meter to check your sugar levels periodically, says Dr Gadge. (Read: Gestational Diabetes: Causes, prevention and treatment)

Follow a proper diet plan: Pregnancy is no reason to go overboard with food. In fact, all you need during pregnancy is just 300 calories extra from your regular caloric intake. So plan your diet accordingly. If you are a non-vegetarian it shouldn t be an excuse to avoid vegetables. You need nutrients from all food groups for better health of your baby and that of yours.

Be regular with exercise: Sweating out during pregnancy has varied benefits, it keeps blood glucose levels in control, boosts circulation and aids in the growth and development process of the fetus. An added bonus is it can keep gestational diabetes at bay. (Read: Is my child likely to get diabetes if I had diabetes during pregnancy?)

Seek adequate treatment: Diabetes during pregnancy can be managed with insulin therapy to maintain blood sugar levels in the normal range. This will ensure that the baby gains adequate weight, prevent preterm labour, miscarriages etc., and ensure a smooth pregnancy and labour, says Dr Gadge.

How gestational diabetes affects the mother s health:

The condition doesn t just lead to consequences in the growing fetus, but it can also affect the mother s health in the following ways:

  • It can lead to high blood pressure resulting in pre-eclampsia which comes with its own set of complications.
  • It increases the amount of amniotic fluid in the womb resulting in fetal distress.
  • It can lead to premature birth of the baby by leading to labour in almost 37 weeks, before the actual due date.
  • It increases the chances of cesarean birth, resulting in complications.
  • It leads to the risk of developing gestational diabetes in future pregnancies.
  • It also increases risk of developing type II diabetes in later stages of life.

How gestational diabetes affects the baby:

If the mother suffers from gestational diabetes it could result in the following complications in the baby:

  • It increases the probability of the baby acquiring low blood sugar leading to a condition called hypoglycaemia, for a few days after birth.
  • If the baby is born prematurely, there is a higher chance of the child suffering from respiratory distress syndrome as the lungs do not get a chance to develop fully as a result of high sugar levels during pregnancy.
  • The child stands a higher chance of being obese in the future.
  • Also, faces a clear risk of developing diabetes when the child grows older.

Photo source: Getty images

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