Gestational diabetes is a disease that affects women during pregnancy. According to surveys, about 2-14% of pregnant women have this form of diabetes. As everybody knows, there are several types of diabetes, namely diabetes mellitus type I, type II diabetes, secondary diabetes and gestational diabetes. Insulin is a protein hormone and plays an important role in the body – to regulate blood sugar levels and to help glucose enter the cells. In pregnant women, the body needs more insulin than normally, for the child’s needs too, which is very necessary, especially in the last 4-5 months of pregnancy.
Glucose is produced by the liver (which acts as a repository of sugar in the body) or absorbed from foods that contain carbohydrates. This type of food can be simple carbohydrates (honey, sugar, juice, jam, candy and other sweets) or integral carbohydrates (from bread, pasta, vegetables, fruits, dairy and grains).
Gestational diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not work well and thus exceeds normal sugar levels. The women more prone to do gestational diabetes are: those that are overweight, who have already had the disease in the past, those who have a close family member who suffers from diabetes (parents, siblings, grandparents) and those who already have a child born with a high weight of approx. 4.5 kg, or who had more than 3 past miscarriages, gave birth to a dead child or with problems.
Usually diabetes symptoms may not appear clear, making it difficult to detect the disease. If the disease is symptomatic, there may be signs such as: overall fatigue, excessive thirst, vision problems. If you notice these symptoms, consult an obstetrician-gynaecologist. In order to establish a correct diagnosis, doctors recommend that patients take blood tests, glucose tolerance tests and urine test.
Gestational diabetes affects pregnant women, so they must take this issue seriously, with great responsibility, to seek medical help and follow treatment. A large amount of sugar in the blood is dangerous because it can cross the placenta and reach the baby’s blood. Often this leads to weight gain so the child will have to be born by caesarean section. A hazard that may occur due to the possibility of developing gestational diabetes is that of post-natal illness, such as hypoglycemia or neonatal jaundice. To prevent the chances of the child of having such a disease (because it is very sensitive to increased levels of blood sugar) medical personnel carefully follow its health for a certain period after birth. Anecdotal medical belief states that a child who was born by a mother with gestational diabetes will have an increased risk of future diabetes and obesity.
For good health, we recommend a balanced diet and exercise every day. For pregnant women, there are some special fitness exercises, who are performed daily for 30 minutes. As far as the special diet is concerned (recommended by a doctor), it should consist of foods that are easily digested and are good for the body. The diet should contain 35-40% carbohydrates daily, 20-25% protein and 35-40% fat. The body weight should be kept under control so as to avoid obesity. Overweight women should reduce their caloric intake carefully, without resorting to excessive diets which may affect their health. They should drop the fat and eat more protein and fibre, plus vegetables and fruits. If blood glucose levels are not reduced through dieting, the doctor will calculate the insulin to be administered daily.
Women who have had gestational diabetes during pregnancy are advised by doctors to have annual tests to determine blood sugar levels. They also need to be careful regarding food consumption and carefully follow the recommendations of a nutritionist. In many cases women have such disease during pregnancy, healing postpartum through therapy used to normalize blood glucose. Also doctors say that some women who developed the disease during pregnancy a form of diabetes II had before getting pregnant, but it was not diagnosed. According to statistics, 50% of the cases of gestational diabetes can occur in the next pregnancy of a woman who gave birth and already suffered from this disease. Some patients who had this disease required treatment with insulin to avoid the risk of suffering from diabetes again. Also a woman has to plan the next pregnancy if she wants more children in the future.