Pregnancy is often accompanied by various discomforting conditions, one of them being high blood sugar levels. Women, say 3-10%, are said to be affected by diabetes during pregnancy, the frequency being quite low. We all are aware that diabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are high since insulin production isn't enough and the body fails to make proper use of it. Insulin functions by breaking down the sugar in the blood so as to use it for energy.
The cause of gestational diabetes (type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes) is unknown but the main reason could be to provide enough sugars to the growing baby. As we all know, hormonal changes are a part and parcel of being pregnant. The changing hormones block the action of insulin making the body deprived of it, resulting in high demands for insulin. Also, if you have had family history of gestational diabetes or have previously delivered a heavy baby or are over weight then you have high chances of suffering from this life long condition. In rare cases, if you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), then it could lead to high blood sugar in pregnancy as well. In general, women with ethnic background mainly from South Asian countries are at very high risks of suffering from this condition.
High blood sugar during pregnancy is often symptom less but if you have been showing increased thirst, or frequent urination or feeling tired and dizzy, you might have developed gestational diabetes. Though these are some of the common symptoms of being pregnant that are not very specific.
High blood sugar levels during pregnancy isn't a fatal condition if controlled properly. If neglected, could lead to pre-eclampsia which causes high blood pressure. It could also lead to premature labor and increased levels of amniotic fluid. High blood sugar levels in early pregnancy is rare and gets prominent only when the delivery approaches (latter half of pregnancy phase). As far as the baby is concerned, high chances of a cesarean delivery prevail since your baby will be heavy, in this case. The baby would produce more insulin to control the increased sugar levels leading to more storage of fats and tissues. The newborn, thus, has very high chances of being obese. The delivery might be very painful as well due to shoulder dystocia wherein the baby's shoulder gets stuck behind the pelvic bone, preventing his/her body to get delivered. Another complication would be low sugar levels, or hypoglycemia, in the baby since the body would be accustomed to producing high levels of insulin. In very rare conditions, the baby might have respiratory disorders or jaundice or brain damage wherein special medication will be required and in absolutely very rare conditions, the baby might die due to lack of blood supply.
Diagnosis (Glucose Tolerance Test)
Since the symptoms are too vague, a test showing glucose levels during pregnancy can be a sure shot way of diagnosis. It requires you to fast overnight after which the doctor will ask you to drink glucose solution and take your blood samples at different time intervals to check your body's reaction. If you have developed diabetes during pregnancy, the test will be carried out between 24 to 28 weeks and in case of gestational diabetes, one test will be at 18 weeks and another at 24 and 28. The high blood sugar levels chart and your test reports will help you diagnose the condition easily.
Since this a life long condition, a proper pregnancy diet and certain exercises will help you deal with it and the resulting complications as well. Eating plenty of absorbed carbohydrates such as wholemeal bread and pasta, oats, brown rice, potatoes, lentils, beans is recommended since these foods have a low glycemic index. You could also include lean proteins like oily fish and at least five portions of fruits and vegetables each day. You could indulge in chocolate bars which are low in fat, sugar and salt. Your pregnancy exercises are equally important since they'll keep you active. Testing the blood sugar levels is a prerequisite since it'll keep you up-to-date and on the edge.
If you have been detected with high blood sugar levels during pregnancy, then you need to take utmost care of yourself. The main aim is to maintain a normal blood sugar range; not too high and not too low which would normally be done using insulin injections.