Diabetes during pregnancy can be scary. But with a few precautions, it need not cause harm to mother or child.
While motherhood is painted as the crowning glory and privilege of being a woman, it comes with its own inherent problems. One of the major problems is diabetes.
Diabetes in pregnant women is of two types: Gestational diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy and pre-gestational or pre-existing diabetes (type 1 or type 2 diabetes).
Diabetes in pregnant women occurs in about one in 20 pregnancies. Hormonal changes and weight gain are part of a healthy pregnancy, but these can sometimes take a toll on the body.
Gestational diabetes is a condition that occurs only during pregnancy. It usually develops in the middle of the pregnancy, between the 24th and 28th weeks when hormones interfere with the mother's ability to use insulin.
The two types of pre-gestational diabetes are:
When the body requires more energy than usual and the normal amount of glucose from the food intake is not sufficient. To compensate this, the pancreas makes more and more insulin.
But if insulin is not produced in the right amount or, due to malfunction of the pancreas, insulin is not produced; the glucose can't get into the cells, and accumulates in the blood causing diabetes. If not taken seriously, this can lead to blindness, chronic heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and also sometimes to amputations.
Many people are unaware that diabetes can be dangerous for pregnant women.
If uncontrolled, it can affect the baby. It can cause the baby to grow large (macrosomia) and have a higher birth weight (nearly four kg).
This can make normal delivery (vaginal) difficult. Uncontrolled diabetes can also put the baby at increased risk for breathing problems, low blood sugar levels after delivery and jaundice. There are chances that the baby may acquire diabetes or be born with defects.
So, the big question is: How to avoid gestational diabetes? In case of diabetics, how to ensure that the baby is not affected? It comes down to taking a few precautions during pregnancy.
What you can do
Follow the diet plan suggested by your dietician strictly.
Try to be active for at least two hours and 30 minutes each week. This will help keep blood glucose level on track.
Use a blood glucose meter to check levels periodically. This is very important so that the patient can take the necessary measures if levels drop.
In such cases, the best treatment is Insulin. Insulin therapy helps maintain blood sugar levels in the normal range, which is important for the baby as well. It will prevent pre-term labour and miscarriage.
An insulin pump is the best choice as it is accurate, precise and flexible. It delivers insulin more accurately than injections; eliminates individual injections; improves HBA1c; reduces episodes of hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia; allows flexibility on when and what can be eaten; improves quality of life and allows you to exercise without having to eat large amounts of carbohydrate
All moms-to-be, just be careful. Keep a close check on blood glucose level and enjoy the pregnancy.
What can go wrong?
Diabetes in pregnant women can lead to a number of complications for both mother and the child.
Possible effects for the mother
High blood pressure resulting in fits or Pre-eclampsia
Increase in the amount of amniotic fluid
Need for a caesarean birth because of complications
Chances of developing gestational diabetes in future pregnancies
Risk of developing type II diabetes later
Possible effects for the baby
Probability of low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) for a few days after birth
High risk of jaundice
If the baby is born prematurely, respiratory distress syndrome is likely as the lungs cannot develop fully due to diabetes during pregnancy
Higher risk of obesity later
Clear risk of developing diabetes later