In most cases, gestational diabetes or gestational diabetes is a temporary phenomenon. During pregnancy, the glucose metabolism in the affected women is disrupted by the formation of pregnancy hormones. After the birth of the child, however, the sugar levels return to normal.
What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is characterized by the first occurrence of a glucose tolerance disorder during pregnancy. With some certainty, the so-called gestational diabetes is one of the most common pregnancy-related diseases. See bestitude for Meanings of Maxillary Sinusitis.
The pregnancy hormones estrogen, prolactin, progesterone and placental lactogen, which provide the female body with the necessary glucose during pregnancy, are probably to blame for the occurrence of gestational diabetes.
In some women, however, the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to transport this glucose to the body’s cells (true insulin deficiency). Or the pancreas can produce more insulin, but the cells no longer react to it (relative insulin deficiency).
Many pregnant women who have already been diagnosed with gestational diabetes are probably wondering why it hit them. This question is certainly justified, but cannot be answered one hundred percent in all cases.
A risk factor that should not be underestimated is usually body weight. With a body mass index of > 27, there is an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes.
Equally problematic are hereditary factors (type 2 diabetes mellitus in the family) and being over 30 years of age. Past pregnancies and births are also the focus of interest. If all of the following questions can be answered with “yes”, the pregnant woman should immediately consult a gynecologist:
Has a child been born with a birth weight of more than 4500 g? Have more than three miscarriages occurred? Did you have gestational diabetes during your last pregnancy? Nevertheless, the cause of gestational diabetes cannot always be clearly determined. Sometimes it also affects women without the risk factors mentioned.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Although gestational diabetes is not uncommon, it often goes undetected. This is due to the fact that the disease usually progresses without symptoms. As a rule, it remains completely undetected until the 24th week of pregnancy. In addition, the signs of gestational diabetes are quite unspecific if they only occur sporadically.
During pregnancy, the specific symptoms of diabetes are usually not perceived as such. Because frequent urination, constant tiredness or a feeling of weakness can also be typical side effects of pregnancy. However, there are also abnormalities during pregnancy that speak for diabetes.
These include high blood pressure, sudden rapid weight gain in the pregnant woman and/or the unborn baby due to abnormally high blood sugar levels, and rapid increase in the amount of amniotic fluid (this can be detected on an ultrasound scan).
If several of the above symptoms become noticeable, then the disease is much easier to diagnose. Increased infections of the urinary tract and vaginal inflammation, on the other hand, clearly indicate gestational diabetes. These infections are triggered by the high amount of sugar in the urine, because sugar promotes the growth of fungi and bacteria.
Many women cope well with the symptoms of gestational diabetes, but the disease is sometimes associated with serious consequences for mother and child. If no necessary medical measures are taken, the disease may persist beyond the pregnancy.
Diagnosis & History
Gestational diabetes can only be reliably detected with a so-called “oral glucose tolerance test”. The good news is that the examination costs for the test have been covered by all health insurance companies since March 3, 2012.
From the 24th week of pregnancy, the doctor measures the patient’s fasting blood sugar, gives her a glucose solution to drink and waits three times for an hour before the next measurement. The blood sugar is measured every hour, with each time there is a limit that must not be exceeded under any circumstances.
The fasting value after 8 hours of fasting should not be more than 95 mg/dl, after one hour 180 mg/dl must not be exceeded, 2 hours after drinking the glucose solution the value must be below 155 mg/dl and after 3 hours the Blood sugar levels have returned to levels below 140 mg/dl. If only an upper limit is exceeded, it may already be gestational diabetes.
In the case of gestational diabetes, there is a risk of complications for both the mother and the unborn child. The risk increases if gestational diabetes is not treated. One of the greatest risks of gestational diabetes in the mother is preeclampsia. This is high blood pressure, which is accompanied by an increased concentration of protein in the urine.
At the same time, the risk of a seizure (eclampsia) increases. In addition, the pregnant woman is more susceptible to inflammation of the vagina and urinary tract infections. Women who have gestational diabetes are also more likely to have a cesarean section, due in part to the complications or size of the child.
If the mother later becomes pregnant again, the risk of further gestational diabetes is around 50 percent. Furthermore, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus increases.
Complications due to gestational diabetes also threaten the child. It is possible for the placenta to develop incorrectly, resulting in insufficient nutrition for the foetus. Maturation disorders in organs such as the liver or lungs can also occur. In the worst case, intrauterine fetal death occurs.
Even after birth, the consequences of diabetes are noticeable. Not infrequently, the affected babies suffer from prolonged jaundice. A calcium deficiency, hypoglycaemia or brain damage are also possible. In severe cases, the newborn may experience pauses in breathing or seizures.
When should you go to the doctor?
If you have gestational diabetes, you should definitely see a doctor. Proper treatment of the disease is the only way to guarantee normal child development. If gestational diabetes is not treated, severe malformations can occur in the child, which must be treated after birth. The sooner the doctor is consulted for gestational diabetes, the better the further course of this disease. As a rule, a doctor should be consulted if the pregnant woman suffers from low blood pressure and significant weight gain. The increase in weight exceeds the normal increase during pregnancy.
Inflammation in various parts of the body can also indicate gestational diabetes and should be examined by a doctor. A doctor should be consulted, especially if these symptoms suddenly appear. The urine of those affected can smell sweet and indicates gestational diabetes. In the case of gestational diabetes, a general practitioner or a gynecologist can be consulted. As a rule, the disease can be treated well, so that the life expectancy of the mother and the child are not reduced by this disease.
Treatment & Therapy
When gestational diabetes is diagnosed, the patient is usually referred to a diabetologist, who analyzes the patient’s diet in detail and has suggestions for improvement ready. If the patient abstains from now on the so-called “short-chain carbohydrates” such as sugar, white bread and sweets, the blood sugar levels can be adjusted well in over 80% of the patients.
From now on, whole grain products, lots of vegetables and less fructose-containing fruit such as berries or apples are on the menu. Once a week, the diabetologist checks the patient’s blood sugar levels, who log their values at least three times a day from the time of the first nutritional consultation:
In the morning after getting up, at noon and in the evening. If the blood sugar levels are within limits and there are only a few “outliers”, the low-carbohydrate diet is perfectly sufficient to prevent the mother from gaining excessive weight and the baby from developing at a delay. Insulin administration is then unnecessary and gestational diabetes does not lead to any further complications, such as excessive birth weight, which can lead to a problematic birth.
Gestational diabetes cannot always be avoided. Hereditary factors, obesity and the increasing gestational age of the patients take their toll. It is not crucial to “eat a lot” during pregnancy, but rather to eat healthy and varied. In this way, some gestational diabetes may not develop in the first place and existing gestational diabetes can be treated well.
In most cases, the patient with gestational diabetes has only a few and only limited direct follow-up measures available. For this reason, the person affected should ideally consult a doctor at an early stage in order to prevent the occurrence of other symptoms or complications.
It cannot heal itself, so treatment by a doctor should be initiated in good time. This is the only way to prevent various malformations in the child. In most cases, the symptoms of gestational diabetes can be alleviated relatively well if the diet is changed accordingly. The affected person should avoid sugar and white bread and generally pay attention to a healthy lifestyle with a healthy diet.
Regular check-ups and examinations by a doctor are very important in order to identify further complaints at an early stage. In some cases, the disease can also be completely cured by administering insulin, so that no special aftercare measures are then necessary. Gestational diabetes does not reduce the life expectancy of the patient and does not usually limit it.
You can do that yourself
The blood sugar level in gestational diabetes can often be normalized with a change in diet and physical activity. Pregnant women with this diagnosis should definitely seek individual nutritional advice.
In the case of gestational diabetes, the daily amount of energy should be between 1,800 and 2,400 kilocalories, depending on eating habits, daily routine and body weight. When it comes to nutrition, pregnant women should ensure that their daily intake of carbohydrates is 40 to 50 percent and consists primarily of slowly absorbable carbohydrates (e.g. whole grain products). A mother-to-be with gestational diabetes should avoid white flour products, fruit juices and confectionery, because the foods cause blood sugar to rise excessively quickly and severely. To avoid this, it still makes sense to consume around 30 grams of fiber daily in the form of whole grain products, fruit, vegetables and legumes.
Furthermore, it is recommended to preferably consume vegetable fats and to cover the protein requirement with low-fat milk and milk products as well as low-fat meat and sausage products. To avoid blood sugar spikes after a meal, five to seven smaller meals throughout the day are advisable. A diet ban applies to pregnant women who are overweight, regardless of whether they have gestational diabetes or not.
In addition to nutrition, regular exercise is the be-all and end-all. Exercising in moderation can help to naturally lower high blood sugar levels.