During pregnancy the last thing you want to think about is gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). You have more interesting things to think about – like getting the most perfect name for your beautiful baby to be.
However, diabetes during pregnancy is a great concern to many pregnant women. Some have never had diabetes before but now have to deal with the prospect of both the pregnancy and diabetes mellitus during gestation.
What is gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM)?
GDM refers to the condition where non-diabetic women during pregnancy experience very high blood sugar level. Left untreated could lead to diabetes complications which could affect both you and your beautiful baby to be.
How many people are affected by diabetes during pregnancy?
I must say that you are not alone – about four percent (4%) of all expecting mothers are at risk and will develop GDM.
How do I know if I am suffering from GDM?
The symptoms of GDM are sometimes not really noticeable until they become more severe. The typical signs and symptoms you should look out for are increased thirst, increased appetite, frequent urination and sometimes vomiting. These symptoms are very common during normal pregnancies. Therefore the only way to definitely diagnose GDM is to do some diabetes tests. Most pregnant mothers are screened for this metabolic disease.
What causes diabetes mellitus during pregnancy?
Screening before pregnancy may identify the presence of the other types of diabetes mellitus. However, it will not pick up GDM since it is brought about by the hormonal changes during the second to third trimester of pregnancy. These hormones caused by the placenta are needed for the growth and development of the foetus. These hormones interfere with the normal functioning of insulin. They make the cells of the body resistant to insulin during the period of time when the body’s requirement for insulin has more than doubled.
What is insulin?
Insulin is the hormone produced in the pancreas which is needed to take sugar (glucose) from your bloodstream to the cells where it is needed for energy. If insulin is not present your blood sugar level will continue to rise resulting in GDM.
Treatment for diabetes during pregnancy
To prevent the progression of GDM to full blown diabetes type 2 your health care professional will prescribe a course of treatment. The treatment includes the development of a personal targeted diet, light exercise and in some extreme cases medication. The medication will help to bring the sugar down to within manageable levels. In ninety percent (90%) of the cases of GDM the symptoms will disappear after pregnancy. In other cases further treatment would be needed to half the progression to complications of diabetes.