Gestational diabetes is a condition in which the blood glucose levels increase during pregnancy.
Estimations show that around 4 grams of glucose are present in a healthy individual of 70 kg. But in persons with diabetes, the amount of glucose present in the blood is more than the optimum level.
High blood sugar levels cause many problems for the mother and the baby. Hence you are tested for diabetes during pregnancy.
Tests for gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes is diagnosed with a blood test. You will get tested during 24 – 28 weeks (second trimester) of pregnancy.
There are two types of screening tests to detect gestational diabetes. They are
- Glucose screening test
- Glucose tolerance test
Glucose screening test
In this test, you will be given a liquid that contains glucose. After one hour, your blood will be drawn to check the sugar level.
If your blood sugar level is 140 mg/dL or lower, it is usually normal. But if your blood sugar level is higher than 140 mg/dL, you will need to take a glucose tolerance test.
Glucose tolerance test
This test will measure your blood sugar level before and after drinking a glucose liquid. After you fast overnight (at least 12 hours), your blood is drawn to check your fasting blood sugar level.
After that, you will be given a glucose liquid to check your blood glucose level at intervals of 1 hour, 2 hours, and 3 hours. If at least two of your blood sugar levels are higher than the normal level, you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
So if your blood sugar level in pregnancy is 168 mg/dL, then there is a high probability that you have developed gestational diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes
Your doctor will likely test you for type 2 diabetes at the early stages of pregnancy if you have certain risk factors, which includes –
- If you have a family history of diabetes.
- If you are overweight.
- If you have high blood pressure.
- If you have suffered from gestational diabetes or pre-diabetes in the past.
- If you have given birth to a baby who has weighed more than 9 pounds.
- If the triglyceride levels are high in your blood.
Treatment for gestational diabetes
Keeping weight in control is very important during pregnancy. You should limit the carbohydrates in your food. Instead, focus on a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.
You have to exercise for at least 30 minutes daily. If you are not active regularly, you can start with an easy one like walking. You can also do swimming or yoga as recommended by your doctor. Moreover, exercise helps to control obesity.
As per the doctor’s suggestions, make sure to get insulin injections if you have high blood sugar levels. However, It is estimated that people between 10% to 20% with gestational diabetes need insulin to meet normal blood sugar levels.