In gestational diabetes, your blood glucose (also called blood sugar) gets too high. Glucose helps your body to generate energy but too much glucose in your blood can be harmful for you and your baby. Indian women are highly susceptible to gestational diabetes. Research shows that nearly 20% of pregnant Indian women suffer from gestational diabetes1.
This is a form of diabetes that usually occurs in the second half of pregnancy. It is also called pregnancy diabetes because it happens only in pregnancy and vanishes after the pregnancy. This is quite common. The good news is that with expert and prompt medical care, this condition can be managed and you can a safe delivery and a healthy baby.
- Extreme thirst, hunger, or fatigue
- Frequent urination
- Bigger baby than normal
- An abnormal blood sugar value on your regular blood test
Some women may not experience any of these symptoms
All pregnant Indian women are screened for gestational diabetes between 24-28 weeks of pregnancy. This is called the glucose screening test.
Then if they have abnormal levels of blood sugar in the glucose screening test, they take the glucose tolerance test.
If you test positive in this glucose tolerance test, gestational diabetes is diagnosed.
With prompt medical treatment, gestational diabetes can be managed to assure a safe pregnancy for the mother and baby.
First you will be referred to a professional dietician and be put on a special diet that is:
- High protein
- High fibre (lots of vegetables and fruits that are low in sugar, whole grain cereals)
- Low carbohydrates (Eat less/no white rice, no white bread etc. Switch to the more complex carbohydrates founds in whole grain foods)
- Low sugar diet (cut back on fruit juices, sweets and sugar)
You will also be advised to do regular exercise and watch your weight.
Some women with acute gestational diabetes or women who had diabetes before pregnancy need shots of insulin to keep their blood sugar levels under control. Insulin is not harmful for your baby.
Effect on baby
If left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause following problems in your baby:
- Baby can be grow very large. This can make delivery risky for you and your baby, and can result in higher probability of a c-section. This is called macrosomia.
- Baby might have low blood glucose right after birth. This is called hypoglycemia.
- Your baby might have some breathing problems.
- You and your baby can be at risk for diabetes for the rest of your lives.
- Your baby may have some mineral deficiencies her blood but this can be treated by providing those nutrients to the baby
After baby is born, sugar levels start going down in the mother and the condition goes away in a few weeks.
1. V Seshiah, V Balaji, Madhuri S Balaji, CB Sanjeevi, A Green, "Gestational Diabetes Mellitus in India", JAPI, Vol 52, Sep 2004