Conceiving a baby and becoming pregnant bring about certain changes in a woman’s body system, including hormonal fluctuations, irregular vital signs, and mood swings. A common effect is also observed in glucose tolerance, thus diabetes and pregnancy are often related. Maintaining the glucose level within recommended range is crucial for a safe childbirth. Very low or high levels during the gestation period can pose health risks, both for the baby and the mother. While planning to have a baby, diabetic women should take initiative and consult with the doctor and nutrition expert. Failure to control blood sugar levels during pregnancy in the prescribed range may lead to severe complications, like miscarriage and birth defects.
Healthy Sugar Levels
In general, a glucose screening test or glucose challenge test is conducted when a woman enters her 24th or 28th week of pregnancy. If the sugar concentration falls anywhere between the range 70-130 mg/dL (mg of glucose per deciliter of blood plasma) before meals, it is healthy. However, considering the body changes during pregnancy, health experts are of the opinion that the levels below 140 mg/dL is ideal. After 2 hours of having meals, the safe score is below 180 mg/dL.
Blood sugar reading below the ideal range is considered as low or hypoglycemia. In healthy women, it may be because of long gap between meals and too much of physical activities. A woman with gestational diabetes may experience it due to excess insulin administration. The signs of hypoglycemia are dizziness, weakness, sweating, hunger, breathing difficulty, and fainting. However, dangerous readings need not necessarily be low, but it also encompasses high levels of sugar in the bloodstream.
If the before meal blood test reading falls between 140-200 mg/dL, further glucose tolerance test is performed for diagnosing gestational diabetes. In such a diabetes case, regular glucose monitoring and diet control are imperative to keep the glucose levels within the healthy range. Some of the noticeable gestational diabetes symptoms are increased fatigue, increased thirst, frequent urination, increased appetite, and recurrent infections. Diabetic pregnant women should be very careful and check the sugar levels for several times a day (preferably 6-8 times) or as instructed by the concerned physician.
As per medical data, the number of pregnant women reported with hyperglycemia is more than those with low sugar levels, i.e., hypoglycemia. Approximately 4 percent of the expecting mothers are diagnosed with gestational diabetes. A brief incidence of low blood sugar levels does not cause severe effects to the baby and mother. It can be overcome with quick response, like chewing sugar-rich candies and drinking fruit juices. Women having gestational diabetes are to avoid sugary and fatty food; while including high fiber foods and complex carbohydrates.
Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels during gestation is, thus, a prerequisite for a normal delivery. Fortunately, diabetic pregnant women can expect a good outcome and a healthy baby, provided that they follow the doctor’s recommendations for controlling blood sugar levels. The doctor may recommend safe medications, gestational diabetes diet, mild exercises and a little change in lifestyle habits to control sugar levels till the childbirth.