Gestational Diabetes: Facts and Myths

Diabetes Care|Dec.24, 2019

Managing Gestational Diabetes Means Learning All the Facts.

Motherhood is a pretty phenomenal experience and its also a mixed one. The body undergoes a lot of changes - physically and hormonally - as it begins to nurture for two; making it a little tricky to navigate. One of the metabolic shifts that women experience quite often during pregnancy is when you start experiencing issues while breaking down sugars. It is often referred to as Gestational Diabetes. Here's some more information to help you understand this better

Understanding Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes occurs when a pregnant woman, who doesn't have a history of diabetes, has trouble regulating her glucose levels during pregnancy, the American Diabetes Association says. Women who develop diabetes during pregnancy often require extra care and follow-up because uncontrolled high maternal blood sugar poses a health risk for mother and child. About half of women with gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Babies born with excess insulin are often at higher risk for breathing problems and are at greater risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes as they get older.

The good news is that blood sugar regulation is easy with the right meal plan and exercise routine. This helps prevent complications during pregnancy and ensures that mother and child are healthy — and diabetes-free — after delivery.

Myths vs. Facts

There are several common misconceptions about gestational diabetes that tend to make people a bit too vary of the diagnosis.

Myth: Gestational Diabetes is Permanent.

Fact: Having diabetes during pregnancy does increase a woman's risk of developing diabetes after the pregnancy, but gestational diabetes is reversible, says the American Pregnancy Association. For most women, blood sugar levels go back to normal after childbirth, when the body is relieved of the stress of nourishing and carrying a baby.

Myth: If I Have a Family History of Diabetes, Then I Will Get Diabetes.

Fact: Heredity is certainly an important risk factor for developing gestational diabetes; many affected individuals have at least one close family member, such as a parent or sibling, with this disease or another form of diabetes, says the U.S. National Library of Medicine. However, according to the International Organization of Scientific Research Journal of Dental and Medical Sciences, a strong family history of diabetes doesn't guarantee that you'll develop gestational diabetes. Still, if you're aware of a family history of diabetes, you might be able to manage the situation better with precautionary diet and lifestyle measures.

Myth: Women with Gestational Diabetes Can't Eat Dessert.

Fact: Proper blood sugar regulation requires you to understand of the concept of glycaemic index of foods (i.e., the ability of each food to raise blood sugar levels). It's important for women with gestational diabetes to refrain from overindulging in sweets; however, a couple of bites of the occasional dessert are OK for someone who otherwise adheres to her diet and activity routine.

Myth: Only Overweight or Obese Women are at Risk.

Fact: Though being over weight does make it more likely for you to become diabetic when you are pregnant. However, there is a lot more to it. Thin people can become diabetic, too, because diabetes is the result of the interplay of various risk factors in addition to weight, such as family history, other diseases, eating habits and physical activity patterns.

Myth: Eating Too Much Sugar Causes Gestational Diabetes.

Fact: Sugar does not actually cause diabetes, the American Diabetes Association says. However, women who eat a lot of sugary foods are at a higher risk for weight gain, which can increase the risk of developing diabetes. Traditional Indian diets are often high in sugar ( considering carbohydrates as a contributing factor too), so limiting sugar intake, especially during pregnancy, should be a priority. Consult your dietician to understand how much is too much.

Myth: Women with Gestational Diabetes Need Medication and/or Insulin.

Fact: Many women with gestational diabetes require insulin or medication if their blood sugar is difficult to control. However, for women who are able to reign in their numbers with a healthy, low glycaemic index diet and exercise, medication and/or insulin may not be required.

With the right healthcare team, regular follow-ups, a healthy eating plan and an exercise regime, avoiding gestational diabetes is possible. And if you do develop the condition, rest assured that it is very manageable.

Consider Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal, a vivacious mother of two, who was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during her second pregnancy that eventually took a turn to a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. With loving support from her family and sound advice from and regular follow-ups with her doctor, she stayed on top her blood sugar numbers and delivered a beautiful, healthy baby. Though the responsibilities of motherhood meant putting her own health on the back burner for a while, she was eventually able to get back on track with healthy eating and exercise. Today, she is a successful professional and active mom with a wide smile that speaks to her triumphs over her own health issues.


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