Gestational diabetes symptoms in pregnancy do not appear until about 28 weeks into pregnancy nor is it possible to determine whether you are susceptible to gestational diabetes before your first pregnancy.
Why does gestational diabetes develop?
A growing baby and the hormones your body produces increase the demand for insulin and if your body is unable to meet this need your blood glucose level will rise above normal. Unfortunately, ordinary blood glucose meters cannot detect gestational diabetes – you will need a lab blood test to diagnose gestational diabetes. If the report is positive, you will need specialist antenatal care until you deliver.
Gestational diabetes usually disappears once your baby is born. The reason specialist antenatal care is prescribed is to avoid the possibility of developing permanent Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes while you are pregnant.
If you develop gestational diabetes once then you have an increased risk of developing it again during future pregnancies. You can help minimize the risk of developing gestational diabetes by increasing your physical activity level during pregnancy.
Gestational Diabetes Symptoms in Pregnancy
The first sign of gestational diabetes is often a positive urine test for glucose. This is quite tricky because it is common for pregnant women to have glucose in their urine. This is why lab blood tests are prescribed. Usually a couple of tests are conducted – fasting and random.
Because gestational diabetes develops in such a short period of time and usually ends with the delivery, there are low or minimal physical symptoms. However, if it develops and advances rapidly, some of the gestational diabetes symptoms you could watch out for include:
- Blurred vision
- Frequent infections, including those of the bladder, vagina, and skin
- Increased thirst Increased urination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight loss despite increased appetite
- Fruity breath
Gestational diabetes treatment
Depending on your blood glucose level and the stage of your pregnancy, your initial treatment many involve adjusting the quantity and quality of your food intake. For example, hunger drives a lot of women to consume high-sugar foods or large meals containing lots of carbohydrates or lots of sugary liquids. Limiting these can make an immediate difference to your blood glucose levels.
Aim to keep your pre-meal blood glucose level to around 72mg (4 to 6 mmol). 2 Hours after your meal the level should be the same. Blood glucose testing can be done using any standard blood glucose meter.
If dietary changes do not bring your blood glucose levels under control, you will be prescribed insulin. Tablets are usually not prescribed because of the risk to your baby. It is better to accept strict dietary control or insulin injections than to risk passing on diabetes to your unborn child.
If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you will require a caesarean section and your baby might also require special attention on the day immediately after birth.
After delivery your blood glucose levels will usually return to normal. Physicians may however choose to continue your diabetes medication for a bit longer to ensure you do not develop a more permanent form of the disease.