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Gestational Diabetes - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

Last Updated: Nov 01, 2019

What is Gestational Diabetes?

It takes place only during pregnancy. Having a healthy baby is possible despite having gestational diabetes. You would require assistance from your doctor and practicing simple things daily to manage blood sugar levels. You might not have diabetes after the baby has been delivered. Gestational diabetes increases the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, but it doesn’t necessarily have to happen.

What are the warning signs of gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is raised blood glucose levels during pregnancy. It develops in 5 % of all pregnancies but usually disappears after giving birth. Women who have suffered from gestational diabetes during pregnancy are also at high risk (up to 40%) to develop type 2 diabetes.

The doctor screens the patient for gestational diabetes, usually between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy. The test checks the blood glucose level after a glucose load. Pregnant women show few definite signs of gestational diabetes which are similar to traits of diabetes.

Signs of gestational diabetes include:

  • Feeling thirsty: Pregnant women feel a lot more thirsty even when they haven’t done anything that would make them have a glass of water.
  • Being tired:. Feeling tired, even early in the day, maybe a sign of gestational diabetes.
  • Having a dry mouth: Dry mouth is another subtle sign observed with an increased thirst. Dry mouth and increased thrust can be an key indication of gestational diabetes.

What are the symptoms of gestational diabetes?

Women with gestational diabetes may experience few symptoms such as:

  • Unusual thirst
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Fatigue
  • Sugar in the urine(detected through a routine practitioner visit)
  • Weight gain during pregnancy
  • Extreme hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent bladder, skin or vaginal infections

Any woman experiencing unusual symptoms during pregnancy should speak to her doctor who may be able to determine whether the symptoms are due to gestational diabetes or any other health condition.

What causes gestational diabetes?

When the body is unable to produce enough insulin or does not use the produced insulin effectively, it results in a high level of glucose in the blood (hyperglycemia). There are various types of diabetes like Type-1, Type –II, gestational and pre-diabetes. The main cause of gestational diabetes problem is hormonal changes during pregnancy. The placenta produces hormones and these hormones make cells less sensitive to the effects of insulin. This results in high blood sugar during pregnancy.


Risk factors for gestational diabetes:

Gestational diabetes affects 2% and 10% of pregnant women. A woman is more likely to have gestational diabetes if she:

  • Was overweight or obese before getting pregnant.
  • Is Asian, Native American, African-American or Hispanic.
  • Has a family history of this ailment.
  • Have had gestational diabetes before.
  • Has high blood pressure or any other medical complications.
  • Has given birth to a baby having a weight of more than 9 pounds.
  • Has given birth to a baby that had certain birth defects.
  • Is older than 25.

Treatment for gestational diabetes:

For treating gestational diabetes, your doctor may ask you:

  • To keep a check on your blood sugar four times or more in a day.
  • To check for ketones in your urine by doing tests.
  • To exercise regularly and make it into a habit.
  • To eat healthy and in accordance with what your doctor suggests.

Your doctor can best advice you if insulin or any other drugs may be required for you after tracking weight changes.

What is the management of gestational diabetes?

During Pregnancy

The chances of having gestational diabetes during pregnancy can be reduced by controlling blood sugar levels. For this:

  • Checking your blood sugar level on a regular basis is important.
  • Making changes in the diet can help control blood sugar level. It is mandatory to eat regularly and avoid skipping meals. One must eat starchy & low glycemic index foods that release sugar slowly such as whole wheat pasta, brown rice, bran cereals, pulses, beans, lentils, muesli and porridge. Eating plenty of fruit & vegetables and avoiding sugary foods also help in managing blood sugar levels.
  • Exercise: Light intensity exercise is recommended for pregnant women.
  • Medication: The doctor may also prescribe medication to control blood sugar levels like metformin or insulin injections. These medications will be stopped after giving birth.


The ideal time to give birth if a woman has gestational diabetes is usually around 38-40 weeks. If the blood sugar levels are within normal levels, then there are no concerns regarding the or your baby’s health, and one can wait for labor to start naturally.


It’s important that a mother should feed her baby as soon as possible after birth and at regular intervals until the baby’s blood sugars become stable. The baby’s blood sugars should be tested two to four hours after birth and if found low, the baby will have to be fed temporarily through a tube or a drip.

A woman should get her blood test done to check for diabetes 6-13 weeks after birth. This is because some women have gestational diabetes or raised blood sugar levels even after pregnancy. If the result is normal, it is still advised to have an annual test for diabetes. This is because women who suffered from gestational diabetes during pregnancy are more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes.

What are the home remedies for gestational diabetes?

Some of the home remedies to manage the diabetes are as follows :

  1. Bitter gourd or karela:Bitter gourd consist of Charatin and Momordicin. These two essential compounds are very effective in lowering the raised blood sugar levels‎.
  2. Fenugreek:Fenugreek aids in controlling diabetes, lowering blood sugar levels, improving glucose tolerance and stimulating the secretion of glucose-dependent insulin.
  3. Mango leaves:Fresh mango leaves can be boiled in a glass of water which can be left to cool overnight. This water should be consumed the next morning on an empty stomach.
  4. Indian gooseberry or amla:Indian gooseberry or amla is one of the richest sources of vitamin C and helps the pancreas to produce optimum so that the blood glucose levels remain balanced.
  5. Drumstick or moringa leaves:The drumstick or moringa leaves are best known for their ability to maintain blood sugar levels and boost one's energy.

What can you not eat when you have gestational diabetes?

Avoid all processed foods like white bread, and in general, anything that has a lot of sugar. It is also suggested to avoid fast foods, alcoholic beverages, baked goods like muffins, donuts or cakes, fried food, sugary drinks such as soda, juice and sweetened beverages and starchy foods such as white potatoes & white rice.


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