One of the reasons that pregnant women are told to be cautious with their weight gain as well as sugar consumption is because they are putting themselves and their unborn babies at risk for developing gestational diabetes. And gestational diabetes is consistent high blood sugar levels that happen during pregnancy due to the pancreas failing to produce enough insulin to break down glucose. It is diabetes, but only during pregnancy. However, if gestational diabetes is not managed properly, then serious complications can arise which will be discussed in a bit. However, it is managed well, then the mother and the baby will likely end up fine at the end. You would think that being overweight before getting pregnant or having problems with blood sugar before that as well would increase the odds of the development of gestational diabetes alone. Yes, it can, however, as long as proper care is taken during pregnancy even with that, gestational diabetes will not necessarily develop. And, even though it is true that if a pregnant woman ends up with gestational diabetes increases her chances of developing type 2 diabetes later on, it doesn’t always happen.
And, unfortunately, the condition can arise even if weight gain has not been excessive and proper care has been taken during pregnancy. Even though the exact cause of this condition is not known, the pregnancy hormones, human placental lactose and other hormones that can increase the chances of insulin resistance to happen is likely the cause. And some women are more likely going to be affected than others for unknown reasons. Once again, that even means an overweight woman can escape it while one who was at a healthy pre-pregnancy weight ends up with the condition. Many times, gestational diabetes does not cause symptoms, and it is detected through consistent tests turning positive for sugar in urine, and it emerges between 24 to 28 weeks. This is why pregnant women are told to take the glucose test which they have to do after fasting for 12 hours and have to stay at the clinic after drinking a sweet syrup for 3 hours to have their blood work monitored once for each hour to measure glucose levels. If the results show that glucose levels are normal after the test was done, then the pregnant woman does not have gestational diabetes. If the results show that the glucose levels are high the entire time, then she has the condition. However, even though there is no guarantee that an overweight woman will end up with gestational diabetes, it is still a risk factor. Other risk factors are:
Have given birth to a baby previously that was over 9 lbs
History of diabetes in the family (not necessarily with herself)
Has taken glucocorticoids
Had an unexplained miscarriage or stillbirth in the past
High blood pressure
Is over 25 years of
Is of African, Asian, Hispanic, or Native American
Gaining too much weight during
Lives a sedentary lifestyle
Again, even with those factors, there is no guarantee that gestational diabetes will happen. But those factors will cause frequent monitoring to happen. And, even though more often than not, gestational diabetes is asymptomatic, the following symptoms can happen as well:
The constant need to urinate
The constant thirst that never ends
And fatigue and frequent urination are common in pregnancy regardless. However, those symptoms should ease in the second trimester which is when gestational diabetes is detected. With that said, if fatigue and urination are excessive during that time, then that can be a red flag. Fortunately, if gestational diabetes has been diagnosed, it can be managed and healthy pregnancy can still happen. That means that the mother will only be able to eat foods that don’t have many carbs and will likely need to go on insulin depending on the severity. However, if it is not properly managed, then the baby will be large to the point that a C-section will be needed which means the baby will weigh over 9 lbs. And, there is a risk that the baby could be hypoglycemic or end up with type 1 diabetes. That is something that can be easily avoided as long as proper care is implemented. And even though gestational diabetes is usually not diagnosed until the second trimester, if sugar is being passed into urine the entire pregnancy, then that in itself is a red flag and cannot ever be ignored. The good news though is that once it is managed and it can be managed, the rest of the pregnancy will go fine most of the time unless there is another unrelated complication coming into play.