Gestational diabetes, as the name suggests, is a kind of diabetes that only occurs during pregnancy. It usually goes away on its own soon after delivery. The good news, many pregnant women with the condition are still able to have healthy pregnancy and baby. However, it can also carry some health risks and pregnancy complications. Although currently there is no specific way known to definitely prevent the condition, some natural approaches may help lower your risk!
What you need to know about gestational diabetes?
Diabetes means the body cannot regulate its blood sugar (glucose) levels as well as it should. You need glucose for energy. Although the body can convert energy from other sources (such as fat and protein), glucose is the main fuel of your energy. But high amounts of glucose in the blood are not good. High blood sugar is linked to a number of health risks.
Women with diabetes who’re trying to get pregnant should pay more attention on their blood sugar, either prior to or during pregnancy. Poorly-controlled blood sugar poses some pregnancy complications that can hurt the mother and baby. So if you’re diabetic, it’s always important to follow your diabetic treatment plan as well.
Diabetes in pregnancy can also affect non-diabetic women. This is what we call as gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that is only found during pregnancy. It doesn’t affect all pregnancies. Unfortunately it seems that the number of cases is increasing.
If you do concern about your risk of developing gestational diabetes, take a few minutes to read the following pieces of helpful information!
How do pregnant women get gestational diabetes?
It occurs when the mother’s body cannot make adequate insulin during pregnancy. On the other hand, the demand of insulin will increase significantly in pregnancy, especially in late pregnancy.
Insulin is a hormone made and released by the pancreas, an important organ located behind the stomach. This hormone is essential to help the body effectively use glucose (sugar) for energy and play a key role to control the blood sugar levels.
In pregnancy, the body is stimulated to produce more hormones and goes through lots of changes. And these changes carry some consequences. For instance, you can gain more pounds of weight. It’s normal to have weight gain during pregnancy. But it’s also important to make sure that it doesn’t go too far.
Insulin resistance in pregnant women, especially during late pregnancy, is a common condition. While some women are able to cope with it, others fail and develop gestational diabetes. Even some women already have insulin resistance before pregnancy – usually because they are obese or overweight before they get pregnant.
Experts don’t know the exact cause of gestational diabetes. But in general, your risk of developing the condition increases if you have some of the following risk factors:
- Being obese or overweight before pregnant.
- A personal history of gestational diabetes in the previous pregnancy. If you have had it before, the risk of developing the same problem in the next pregnancy is greater.
- A family history of diabetes, especially such as having first relatives (mother, father, brother, or sister) with type-2 diabetes.
- A personal history of delivering an overweight baby (greater than 9 pounds or 4 kg).
- If you have pre-diabetes before pregnancy. Pre-diabetes means you have impaired glucose tolerance or you have abnormal high blood sugar level but it is not high enough to be categorized into diabetes. See also the ‘abnormal levels of blood sugar’ table to help diagnose diabetes in here!
- Age matters, too! It’s thought that becoming pregnant at the ages older than 25 may increase the risk. The older you are when pregnant, the greater risk you have!
- It seems that the condition is likely to occur in particular races. The risk is relatively higher in African American, Asian American, American Indian, Pacific Islander, or Latino /Hispanic.
In addition, having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may also have an effect on the risk. PCOS is a kind of hormonal disorder. It usually causes enlarged ovaries containing follicles (small collections of fluid). It is endocrine system disorder that’s quite common in women of reproductive age. Early diagnosis and treatment is necessary to prevent the complications such as gestational diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Are there any symptoms of gestational diabetes before pregnancy?
Typically, it doesn’t have early signs and symptoms. You cannot determine whether or not you have the condition before pregnancy.
Even in general, tests for gestational diabetes is recommended at weeks 24-28 of pregnancy (late in pregnancy). But if you’re at high risk (such as if you have many risk factors of the condition), you may be asked to take the test earlier.
Natural ways to prevent gestational diabetes
Can you prevent gestational diabetes? If so, can it be prevented naturally? Unfortunately, there is no specific way known that will definitely prevent it. In other words, there is no guarantee when it comes to preventing this diabetes!
But you can lower your risk of developing the condition. In general, the more healthy habits you can achieve and adopt before pregnant and during pregnancy – the better!
The following are natural ways to help increase your chance of preventing gestational diabetes: