Gestational diabetes (GDM) is the type of diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy and usually goes away post-delivery. About 2 in 10 pregnant women are affected by gestational diabetes. This article briefs on what causes GDM, who are at risk of having it, how it affects your baby in the womb and how you can manage it.

What is the cause behind gestational diabetes?
         During pregnancy, the body focuses on making other hormones and the production of insulin (which is necessary to avoid diabetes) is less. This commonly occurs around the second or third trimester. Few pregnant women's bodies can tolerate the less production of insulin while few cannot, leading to gestational diabetes. Having a high BMI also puts at risk of having gestational diabetes. And family history of diabetes also plays a role in having GDM.

Are there any symptoms to know that you have GDM?
         Unfortunately, gestational diabetes doesn’t present any symptoms. But some women may experience frequent urination, nausea, and tiredness. Since these are common symptoms during pregnancy it is difficult to differentiate them from GDM. Regular monitoring of sugar levels in pregnancy is important to rule out if you have one.

In what way does the GDM affect your pregnancy and baby?
         Gestational diabetes puts you at risk of having high blood pressure. It also increases the risk of having a C-section. It can cause the following complications in the baby:
(1) If the mother has GDM it causes excessive growth of the baby. If the baby is very large there is a high risk of having birth injuries or a C-section may be required.
(2) It increases the risk of having a premature birth
(3) It puts the baby at high risk of having seizures, breathing problems, and diabetes in the future.
(4) Untreated gestational diabetes can also cause stillbirth. 

How can you prevent and manage GDM?
(1) Diet - A healthy diet that focuses more on fruits, vegetables, raisins, and whole grains must be included. Carbs and fat should be replaced by protein and fiber. For example, replace white rice with brown rice, oatmeal, or cereal. Intake of sugary items like sweets, ice creams, and chocolates should be avoided. Avoid junk food and processed food items. Eat smaller meals at regular intervals. Schedule and eat food at the same time every day. Do seek help from a dietician to get a proper meal plan based on your weight, food preferences, and sugar levels.
(2) Exercise - Exercising lowers your blood sugar levels. So make sure to exercise every day for 30 minutes and then gradually you can increase the duration. You can also perform other moderate-level aerobic activities like walking and swimming. Make sure to check with your doctor before starting any exercises.
(3) Monitoring - Regular monitoring of sugar levels then and there as directed by your healthcare provider must be done. Similarly, your doctor will also monitor the growth and development of the baby in the womb.
(4) Medication - If your sugar levels are too high your doctor might prescribe you medication or even injections like insulin to keep them in range. Take as directed.