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How Can Gestational Diabetes Affect Your Baby?

By Devika

One of the issues that have been much heard of these days during pregnancy is the occurrence of gestational diabetes. The hormone levels can make the blood sugar level rise when you are pregnant, raising the odds of having a complicated and a high-risk pregnancy. However, one is always advised to stay positive even if gestational diabetes has been diagnosed. If you are in good hands, then you and your baby would manage to complete the term of pregnancy in a healthy manner.

  • Understanding Gestational Diabetes
  • Causes Of Gestational Diabetes
  • Diagnosis Of Gestational Diabetes
  • How Does Gestational Diabetes Affect The Baby?
  • How To Manage Gestational Diabetes?
How can gestational diabetes affect your baby

Understanding Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes only occurs during pregnancy. It indicates high levels of sugar during pregnancy which was normal before you conceived. You would be advised to do certain things in order to manage your blood sugar levels and to keep them under control.

Gestational diabetes usually gets cured once you deliver the baby. At times, it increases the chances of you developing type 2 diabetes. But, this is quite a rare occurrence.

Causes Of Gestational Diabetes

When you are pregnant, the placenta produces hormones that can create a build-up of glucose in your blood. Ideally, your pancreas can produce enough insulin to handle this. However, in some cases, when it does not, the blood glucose levels rise leading to gestational diabetes. You are more likely to have gestational diabetes if you fall into any of the categories mentioned below:

• Have a history of diabetes

• Have had gestational diabetes during your earlier pregnancies

• Was overweight before conceiving

• High blood sugar levels (just at the borderline)

• Have given birth to a large baby before

• Given birth to a baby with defects or have had a stillborn

Diagnosis Of Gestational Diabetes

It usually occurs during the second half of your pregnancy. The symptoms of this could be a need to pee more often, feeling more thirsty than usual, feeling hungrier and tending to overeat. Although these symptoms could be associated with the symptoms of pregnancy alone, usually the diagnosis of gestational diabetes involves a test conducted during your routine pregnancy screening tests.

Usually between weeks 24 to 28, your doctor would prescribe a test to check for gestational diabetes.

How Does Gestational Diabetes Affect The Baby?

As your baby gets nutrients from your blood, you having gestational diabetes would also affect the baby. The baby stores the additional sugar in the form of fat which makes him or her grow larger than normal. There could be certain pregnancy complications in this scenario:

• There could be injuries to the baby during labour due to the increased size of the baby

• The baby could be born with low levels of blood sugar and minerals

• There could be preterm birth

• The baby could be born with jaundice

• There could be temporary breathing problems

The child born could also possess an increased chance of developing obesity and diabetes during the later stages of his life. Such children should be encouraged to maintain a healthy lifestyle right from the beginning.

Let's look at the risks associated with gestational diabetes in detail.

• Premature delivery: Elevated blood sugar levels increase the risk of preterm labour. Several researches have shown that the chances of premature delivery are high if the mother has developed gestational diabetes before the 24th week of pregnancy. Usually the chances of preterm labour decrease to a great extent after 24 weeks of pregnancy. Sometimes such pregnancies are labelled high-risk and are closely monitored.

• Increased chances of caesarean delivery: Most of the time gestational diabetes is associated with a big baby. Women with gestational diabetes are suggested by their healthcare provider to undergo a C-section as the baby is usually larger than normal and undergoing the trauma of labour could be difficult and waiting too long might increase the chances of stillbirth. The risk further increases if the pregnancy is allowed to exceed past 42 weeks. A caesarean is always advised if scans show that the baby is large and also if not in a position to deliver itself naturally.

• Neonatal death: Gestational diabetes has been linked to neonatal hypoglycemia. If left untreated, gestational diabetes mellitus can have devastating effects such as neonatal death. Issues such as postpartum haemorrhage, obstructed labour and pre-eclampsia due to gestational diabetes could be life threatening not just for the mother but for the newborn as well.

• Macrosomia: This is the result of gestational diabetes where a large amount of blood glucose reaches the foetus through the placenta. The foetus stores the extra glucose in the form of fat in its body. This leads to macrosomia or in simple words "large birth weight". It is also referred to as "large for gestational age".

How To Manage Gestational Diabetes?

If you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, your doctor would be closely monitoring you. You would also be asked to visit your doctor for check-ups more frequently. You would also need to do the following:

• Check your blood sugar levels at least four times a day. Keep an auto-digital blood glucose monitoring machine at home.

• Get a urine test done regularly to check for the presence of ketones. This is done to check if the diabetes is under control.

• Regular exercise. You can reach out to trainers who would be able to guide you best about the exercises that are suitable and healthy to perform during pregnancy.

• Seek your doctor's or dietician's recommendation to form a healthy diet chart. Your food should be such that it does not increase the blood glucose levels.

During your each visit to the doctor, your weight would be carefully monitored. Your doctor would keep a close eye on how much weight you gain. You might be put on medication or asked to take insulin if the necessity arises.

Being positive and going by what your doctor advises, you will surely have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy newborn in your arms.

Read more about: diabetes gestation baby
Story first published: Tuesday, August 21, 2018, 17:30 [IST]
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