What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease. A person suffering from diabetes has high blood sugar level either because their pancreas is not producing enough insulin or body cells not able to make proper use of the produced insulin. If the body cells are not able to absorb the glucose from the blood and convert it into energy, the sugar (glucose) gets accumulated in the blood and in turn poses a threat to various organs in the body. Three most common types of diabetes are
- Type 1 diabetes – it is due to the failure of pancreas to produce enough insulin
- Type 2 diabetes – it is due to the failure of body cells to use the insulin to convert the glucose into energy.
- Gestational diabetes – it is when a pregnant woman, who had no signs of diabetes earlier, suffers from high blood sugar level during pregnancy.
Pregnancy and Diabetes
As we know, diabetes is a disease and it has bad effect on our body. Therefore, diabetes during pregnancy can cause serious complications to the mother and her baby. Common symptoms of diabetes are
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst and appetite
- Unusual loss of weight or gain of weight
- Frequent vaginal infection
There are two situations that can arise, a woman who is already diabetic and wants to conceive and give birth to healthy baby, or a woman who had no signs of diabetes before pregnancy but develops it during pregnancy (which is termed as gestational diabetes).
If any women suffering from diabetes want to conceive, it is very important that she should control her blood sugar level. With the help of doctor’s advice, they can decide the safest time to conceive by doing series of blood tests to measure the glucose level. As some research had shown, there is serious a threat of birth defects in the baby whose mother had high blood sugar level during pregnancy.
It has been found that four percent of all pregnant women are diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Exact reason of gestational diabetes is still not known but experts say that placenta secretes hormones that help in the development of the baby. These hormones in turn also nullify the effect of insulin in the mother’s body. As the body develops insulin resistance, the blood sugar level starts increasing and leads to gestational diabetes.
Generally, gestational diabetes affects women in the later months of pregnancy, that is, when most of the body parts of the baby are developed. Therefore, the baby of a gestational diabetic mother does not show the kind of birth defect like the baby whose mother is a diabetic before pregnancy.
However, if precautionary measures are not taken to control gestational diabetes, it can cause damage to the baby. When a woman is suffering from gestational diabetes, her pancreas has to work more to produce extra insulin to control the blood sugar level. However, the insulin is not able to reduce the sugar level. This sugar crosses the placenta but insulin does not. The baby’s pancreas has to work very hard to curb this extra sugar, which in turn generates more energy. Since the baby is getting more energy, the extra energy is stored as fat. This can lead to macrosomia (fat baby). A baby suffering from macrosomia faces other health problems such as damage to the shoulders at the time birth, low blood sugar levels at the time of birth, respiratory problems etc.
Many women follow a planned meal and do light exercise because controlling the level of sugar in blood is the best way to avoid complications. Reduced blood sugar level benefits in many ways
- Reduces the risk of premature birth
- Reduces the risk of miscarriage
- Reduces the risk of birth defects
- Helps mother to maintain normal blood pressure