Five FAQs On Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a common problem among pregnant women. The incidence is increasing these days, especially in South Asian countries such as India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and other nations. Gestational diabetes during pregnancy poses healthcare problem of pregnant women. Because, commonly used oral hypoglycemic drugs cannot be used, due to pregnancy (growing fetus) and have to rely on insulin for management.

What is gestational diabetes?

During pregnancy, insulin requirement is increased due to growing fetus and increased physiological demand. If a pregnant woman cannot secrete excess insulin required during pregnancy, it leads to increase in blood sugar/glucose level and cause gestational diabetes.

How to diagnose gestational diabetes?

Your doctor will ask you to undergo routine tests during pregnancy and blood glucose level is also included in these routine tests, which can detect diabetes easily.

What to do if you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes?

Most important thing in diabetes (including gestational diabetes) is to seek professional help and also learn about the disease as much as possible. Educating yourself about diabetes is very important aspect of management of diabetes. Eating choices are very important in diabetes management, and your doctor will not be there with you every time you something to tell you if you can eat it and how much. Hence, it is very important to educate yourself regarding foods you should eat and foods you should avoid. And also about foods you can eat in moderation. Another important aspect in management of gestational diabetes is to monitor blood glucose level closely at home using portable blood glucose meter (glucometer).

What is the treatment/management of gestational diabetes?

Management of gestational diabetes can be divided into three parts, planned diet, physical activity and insulin (as no oral medications can be used during pregnancy).

  • Meal/diet plan: it is best to get your meal plan done by a dietitian or diabetes educator for optimal management. The diabetes meal plan will provide you detail guidelines about foods to eat and foods to avoid, as well as how much and when to eat. Follow the guidelines properly.
  • Physical activity: this is very important for all diabetic patients. Physical activity improves glucose tolerance and reduce requirement of insulin and also reduce insulin resistance. Hence, physical activity is must. Follow the guidelines given by your doctor or diabetes educator. Your doctor will decide what type of physical activity suits you during pregnancy.
  • Insulin: as mentioned earlier insulin is the only medication that can be used during pregnancy for management of gestational diabetes. Oral hypoglycemic are not prescribed during pregnancy. Your doctor will decide how frequently and what dose of insulin is required for you, depending on blood glucose results.

Is it possible to prevent gestational diabetes?

Many women with gestational diabetes during pregnancy revert to normal after delivery. However, the risk of developing diabetes in future pregnancy is very high. Also the risk of developing diabetes in future is high. Hence, you should take preventive measures to try to prevent development of diabetes after delivery. Maintain a healthy body weight. Engage in regular physical activity and exercise (aerobic exercises are better). Eat a well-balanced diet that provide all essential nutrients in adequate quantity. Test your blood glucose level regularly. This way it may be possible to prevent development of diabetes by some patients. However, despite these preventive measures, you may still develop diabetes.

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