The exact cause of the problem (gestational diabetes) is unknown, but generally during pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes a series of changes to make room for the newborn and get the woman ready for the pregnancy phase. Various hormones like estrogen, cortisol, lactogen, etc., are released during this time, so that the body can sustain the baby in the womb. These hormones ensure the overall development of the baby, and hence, are very important. These hormones interfere with the insulin in the blood and reduce its capacity to absorb glucose which is broken down into energy. Insulin cannot perform its job properly, glucose is not absorbed, thus, it stays in the blood and increases over a period of time, hence, causing gestational diabetes.
The symptoms of gestational diabetes are not very prominent and are similar to that of pregnancy. Hence, they are not easily distinguished. Listed below are few of the symptoms.
- Feeling thirsty often
- Frequent urination
- Bladder infection
- Vaginal infection
- Blurred vision
- Visible loss of weight
Side Effects – Mother-to-be
- Delivery complications: Gestational diabetes cause the blood sugar levels to shoot up in the baby’s blood stream too. This stimulates the baby’s pancreas to produce more insulin than normal. Due to this, the baby puts on extra weight, leading to a condition called macrosomia. In this condition, the baby grows too large for it to come out, and most of the time it calls for a cesarean delivery. Sometimes, the baby’s head easily slips out, but due to the large shoulders, it gets struck, thus leading to large episiotomy for the mother. These delivery complications can cause unusual vaginal injuries and may require special procedures to be performed to deliver the baby, instead of a normal delivery.
- Increased blood pressure: Other side effects of gestational diabetes include that it can cause an increase in the blood pressure. This condition can prevent the blood vessels from supplying blood to vital organs of the body.
- Excess protein in urine: An abnormal amount of protein is present in urine. It indicates the kidney is not doing its filtration job properly or simply the kidney is working much harder than before. Increased protein in the urine may also cause UTI (urinary tract infection).
- Increases risk for diabetes in future: Research shows that about half of the women who have gestational diabetes, are at a higher risk of having it again in a later pregnancy. The risk is highest, if the woman is obese and had high blood sugar levels that were diagnosed early during pregnancy.There also may be chances of getting type 2 diabetes sometimes later in life.
Side Effects – Baby
The gestational diabetes side effects are not just restricted to the mother-to-be, but the newborn is also affected. The baby is likely to have breathing problems and may have an increase in the number of red blood cells, and this condition is called polycythemia. The newborn is likely to develop jaundice as well. The calcium levels in the blood are also bound to reduce. These are post delivery short-term side effects that affect the baby. Unfortunately, there are possible long-term side effects as well.There is every possibility that the newborn may develop type 2 diabetes sometime later in life. The newborn in all probability would be obese and may have impaired or delayed development in coordination, walking and balancing.
The condition of gestational diabetes and its related side effects generally fade away or resolve once the pregnancy period is over. Proper medication, following a prefect diet, and regular exercises prescribed by the doctor, helps to control gestational diabetes side effects, and the very condition too.