Health and topics

Pregnancy diabetes

PREGNANCY DIABETES OR GESTATIONAL DIABETES

For a pregnant woman, nothing is more normal than to yearn for a pregnancy without a hitch. However, some illnesses can occur when a child is expected, such as gestational diabetes or pregnancy diabetes. Gestational diabetes is an elevation, usually moderate, of blood sugar, which is diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy. Blood sugar is the blood sugar level. This abnormality in blood glucose is often noted later than in the first trimester and usually normalizes after delivery. Early diagnosis during pregnancy helps to reduce the consequences of this disease.

About 4% of pregnant women will have gestational diabetes. It appears towards the end of the second or third trimester. Although the malformation rate is not increased in babies, affected women may have a more difficult delivery and the baby may also experience difficulties. In addition, the birth weight of the baby can be increased. Pregnancy diabetes develops in some women because the placenta produces hormones. These hormones reduce the effect of insulin and can lead to hyperglycemia (increased blood sugar).

Risk factors for developing pregnancy diabetes include:

  • be over 35 years old
  • have a family history of diabetes
  • be obese before the beginning of pregnancy;
  • have had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy;
  • have given birth to a baby over 4 kg in a previous pregnancy.

SYMPTOMS AND SCREENING

The pregnant woman with pregnancy diabetes usually has few symptoms. When they occur, they may consist of:

  • unusual tiredness
  • an exaggerated feeling of thirst;
  • an increase in the volume of urine.

If you notice any unusual symptoms during your pregnancy, talk to your doctor.

For pregnant women, it is recommended that a diabetes screening test between the 24 th  and 28 th  week of pregnancy. This test can diagnose diabetes at the right time to prevent possible complications. In women at risk, your doctor may suggest that you take the test in the first trimester to treat high blood sugar quickly. The test consists of taking 50 g of glucose and measuring the blood glucose one hour later. Your doctor may ask you to take a second test or to measure your blood sugars at home for a few days to validate the result and confirm or not the diagnosis of diabetes.

TREATMENTS

The treatment is mainly based on the improvement of the diet and the practice of physical activity. Often, these measures alone are enough to control blood sugar. Thus, it is essential to meet a nutritionist who will help you make better food choices. The diet must be balanced and in sufficient quantity to meet the nutritional needs of the mother and the baby. Regular exercise, such as walking 30 minutes a day, is also very beneficial for controlling blood sugar.

On the other hand, if the blood glucose levels remain too high, your doctor will prescribe insulin injections. It is the most effective, safe and studied treatment in pregnancy. Your healthcare team and pharmacist will be there to teach you how to use it and answer all your questions.

Doctor examining pregnant woman

CHILDBIRTH AND BREASTFEEDING

The moment of delivery comes, as soon as you arrive at the hospital, you will be taken care of just like a woman who does not have diabetes of pregnancy. On the other hand, the care team will regularly take your blood sugar during work and will give you a treatment if necessary. It is also important to know that your baby’s blood sugar will be monitored regularly after birth.

As with other women, breastfeeding is highly recommended if the mother wants it. Feeding during breastfeeding will be the same as during pregnancy. It is important not to make a drastic diet during this period.

THE RISKS OF DEVELOPING TYPE 2 DIABETES

A few months after giving birth, your doctor will check your blood glucose level to see if your blood pressure has returned to normal. Usually, pregnancy diabetes disappears after childbirth. If your blood sugar remains high, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you. However, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is increased in the following years, especially in women with excess weight. That’s why a healthy lifestyle is recommended to prevent it from occurring later in your life. Again, eating a balanced diet to achieve a healthy weight and exercising on a regular basis will reduce your risk.

Since pregnancy diabetes often does not cause any particular symptoms, screening is an excellent strategy to limit its consequences. If it turns out that you are suffering from it, do not worry. A change in your lifestyle will not only benefit your state of health, but will also help you make the most fit possible to be ready to play well this new role so crucial: that of being a mom!

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