Gestational Diabetes : Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention

Gestational Diabetes : Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention
Gestational diabetes is diabetes that occurs during pregnancy, and only lasts until the birth process. This condition can occur at any gestational age, but it usually takes place in the 24th to 28th weeks of pregnancy.

As with normal diabetes, gestational diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin to control glucose (sugar) levels in the blood during pregnancy. These conditions can endanger the mother and child, but can be suppressed if treated quickly and appropriately.

Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes

Symptoms of diabetes during pregnancy appear when blood sugar levels surge high (hyperglycemia). Among them:
  • Often feel thirsty
  • The frequency of urination increases
  • Dry mouth
  • The body gets tired easily
  • Blurred vision
Please note that not all of the above symptoms indicate gestational diabetes, because it can be experienced by pregnant women. Therefore, talk with your doctor if you experience the above conditions.

Causes of Gestational Diabetes

Not yet known exactly what causes gestational diabetes. However, this condition is thought to be related to hormonal changes during pregnancy.

During pregnancy, the placenta will produce more hormones, such as the hormone estrogen, HPL (human placental lactogen), including hormones that make the body immune to insulin, which is a hormone that lowers blood sugar levels. As a result, blood sugar levels rise and cause gestational diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes Risk Factors

All pregnant women are at risk of developing gestational diabetes, but are more at risk of developing pregnant women with the following factors:
  • Overweight.
  • Have a history of high blood pressure (hypertension).
  • Have had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy.
  • Have had a miscarriage.
  • Have ever given birth to a child weighing 4.5 kg or more.
  • Have a family history of diabetes.
  • Experiencing PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) or acanthosis nigrikans.


Gestational Diabetes Diagnosis

The doctor can suspect the patient has gestational diabetes if there are symptoms accompanied by a medical history that has been described previously. But to be sure, the doctor can run further tests, such as:
  • Initial oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). In the initial OGTT, the doctor will check the patient's blood sugar level, one hour before and after administering sugar liquid. If the initial OGTT results show blood sugar levels above 130-140 mg / dL, the doctor will carry out further oral glucose tolerance tests.
  • Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) continued. In this test, the patient will be asked to fast all night before undergoing a blood test in the morning. After the first blood is drawn, the doctor will give sugar water with sugar levels higher than the initial TTGO. Then, your blood sugar level will be checked 3 times every hour. If 2 of the 3 tests show high blood sugar levels, the patient will be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
For patients who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, the doctor will recommend a more routine blood test, especially in the last 3 months of pregnancy. If pregnancy complications occur, the doctor will check the patient's placental function to make sure the baby gets the right oxygen and nutrients in the uterus.

The doctor will also re-run a blood test after the patient gives birth and at 6-12 weeks thereafter, to ensure the patient's blood sugar levels have returned to normal. Patients are also advised to undergo blood tests once every 3 years, even though blood sugar levels have returned to normal.

Gestational Diabetes Treatment

Gestational diabetes treatment aims to control blood sugar levels and prevent complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Gestational diabetes treatment methods include:
  • Routine blood sugar level check. The doctor will advise the patient to have blood checked 4-5 times a day, especially in the morning and after each meal. Patients can check their blood independently, use a small needle, and put blood in a blood sugar check.
  • Healthy diet. The doctor will advise patients to consume lots of high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and grains. Patients are also advised to limit consumption of sweet foods, as well as foods with high fat and calorie content. Losing weight while pregnant is not recommended, because the body is in need of extra energy. Therefore, if you want to lose weight, do it before planning a pregnancy. Diet is also not the same in every patient. Therefore, consult with your doctor about which diet is right for you.
  • Exercise. Exercise can stimulate the body to move sugar from blood into cells to be converted into energy. Another benefit of regular exercise is that it helps reduce discomfort during pregnancy, such as back pain, muscle cramps, swelling, constipation, and difficulty sleeping.
  • Drugs. If a healthy diet and exercise have not been able to reduce blood sugar levels, your doctor will prescribe metformin. If metformin is ineffective or causes severe side effects, the doctor will give insulin injections. About 10-20 percent of gestational diabetes patients need drugs to normalize blood sugar levels.
If blood sugar levels in pregnant women remain uncontrolled or have not yet given birth at more than 40 weeks' gestation, doctors may choose to perform cesarean section or induction to accelerate labor.

Gestational diabetes can increase the risk of babies born with complications. Therefore, it is important to carry out regular pregnancy consultations, so that the baby's development is monitored.

Gestational Diabetes Prevention

Until now, it is not yet known whether gestational diabetes can be prevented or not. However, there are several ways you can do to reduce the risk of developing this disease, namely:
  • Increase consumption of foods with high fiber, such as vegetables and fruits. In addition, avoid foods that contain high fat or calories.
  • Exercise regularly to maintain physical fitness before and during pregnancy. It is recommended to do moderate to moderate exercise, such as swimming, brisk walking, or cycling for at least 30 minutes per day. If it is not possible, do short but regular exercise, such as frequent walking or doing homework.
  • Lose weight when planning a pregnancy by living a healthy diet permanently. This step will also provide long-term benefits, such as having a healthy heart.

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