Gestational Diabetes
1 Member Stories
10 Research

Gestational diabetes is a specific type of diabetes that may develop during pregnancy in women who do would otherwise not have diabetes. Managing gestational diabetes can help you get a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Natural treatments like diet, yoga, and ayurveda can help.

What Is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a specific type of diabetes that may develop during pregnancy in women who do would otherwise not have diabetes. Each year, 2% to 10% of pregnancies in the USA are affected by gestational diabetes. Rates are higher among African, Hispanic, and Asian women compared to Caucasian women.

Managing gestational diabetes can help you get a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Like other kinds of diabetes, gestational diabetes affects how your cells use sugar (glucose).  Gestational diabetes causes high blood glucose that could affect your pregnancy and your baby's health. Expectant women can help control gestational diabetes by eating healthy foods, exercising, reducing stress levels, and, medication if needed upon the advice of a physician. Blood sugar control is the key to keeping you and your baby healthy.

Blood glucose usually returns to normal after the baby is born. However, research shows that you are at risk for diabetes type 2 if you've had gestational diabetes. You'll continue to track and manage your blood glucose in this scenario.

Gestational diabetes is a common medical issue affecting pregnant women diagnosed between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy. It occurs when a pregnant woman has blood glucose levels which are too high. This may lead to a range of problems for the unborn baby, like being born too early, having issues with breathing, weighing too much, and having low blood glucose levels after birth.

High blood glucose levels are also dangerous for the baby and can increase the chance of the woman having a miscarriage or stillborn birth. Gestational diabetes usually develops in the late second trimester due to insulin sensitivity declining progressively as the pregnancy progresses, and then disappears soon after delivery. 

Research in a JAMA study has also found that women with a history of gestational diabetes had a 43 percent higher chance of developing cardiovascular disease. They also indicate that this association between gestational diabetes and cardiovascular disease -- especially the incidence of heart attack and stroke -- is possibly mediated, at least in part, by weight gain and lack of healthy lifestyle during and after pregnancy. 

See: Diet Plan for Gestational Diabetes in Third trimester

Gestational Diabetes symptoms

Gestational diabetes doesn't cause significant signs or symptoms for most women. It is a good idea to have a doctor test for the risk of gestational diabetes as part of a general childbearing wellness plan. If you develop gestational diabetes, you may need more-frequent checkups. These are most likely to happen during the last three months of pregnancy when your physician can monitor your blood sugar level and your child's health.

Your health care team can check your blood sugar right after delivery and again in six weeks to ascertain that your blood sugar level has returned to normal after delivery. Once you've had gestational diabetes, it's a good idea to have your blood glucose level tested regularly. The frequency of blood sugar tests will, in part, vary depending on your evaluation results shortly after you deliver your baby.

See: Gestational Diabetes Diet Plan for Vegetarians

Gestational diabetes causes

Gestational diabetes occurs when your body can't make enough insulin, a hormone made by your pancreas. Insulin acts as a key to let blood sugar into the cells in your body to use as energy.

During pregnancy, your body gains weight & makes more hormones as it goes through many changes. This causes your body’s cells to use insulin less effectively - a condition called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance, in turn, increases your body’s need for insulin. While all pregnant women have some insulin resistance during the later stages of pregnancy, some women have insulin resistance even before they get pregnant. Their starting requirements for insulin are higher, and they are more likely to have gestational diabetes as the requirements increase.

Researchers don't know why some women develop gestational diabetes. To understand the development of this condition, it is useful to know how pregnancy affects glucose processing inside your body.

Your body produces sugar (glucose) that enters your bloodstream after you eat. Your pancreas produces insulin in response, a hormone that helps glucose move from your bloodstream into your body's cells. Your body cells can use this glucose as energy.

During pregnancy, high levels of many other hormones are produced by the placenta. Almost all of these hormones interfere with the normal functioning of insulin in your cells, raising your blood sugar. This is why a modest increase in blood sugar is normal during pregnancy after meals.

As the pregnancy progresses, the placenta produces increased levels of insulin-counteracting hormones. In gestational diabetes, this can cause a rise in blood sugar to levels that can affect the wellbeing of your baby. Gestational diabetes usually develops during the last half of pregnancy — sometimes as early as the 20th week.

See: Gestational Diabetes Meal Ideas for Women

Gestational diabetes risk factors

It’s possible for any woman to develop gestational diabetes, but some are at greater risk than others. Risk factors for gestational diabetes include:

a) Women older than age 25 years old

b) Pre-diabetes — slightly elevated blood sugar that may be a precursor to type 2 diabetes — or if a close family member, such as a parent or sibling, has type 2 diabetes. 

c) if you had it during a previous pregnancy, 

d) if you delivered a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds (4.1 kilograms)

e) if you had an unexplained stillbirth.

f) significantly overweight with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher.

g) Nonwhite race. For reasons that aren't clear, women who are black, Hispanic, American Indian, or Asian are at higher risk to develop gestational diabetes.

See: Yoga Helps You & Your Baby For Gestational Diabetes

Prevention of Gestation Diabetes

You can help prevent gestational diabetes by developing more healthful habits before pregnancy. If you've previously had gestational diabetes, a healthy lifestyle may also reduce your risk of getting it in future pregnancies or developing type 2 diabetes down the road.

- Eat healthy foods. Choose foods high in fiber and low in fat and calories. Focus on fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Strive for variety to help you accomplish your goals without compromising taste or nutrition.

- Keep active. Exercise before and during pregnancy. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days of the week. Take a brisk daily walk. Ride your bike. Swim laps.

- Physical activity. If you can't match a single 30-minute workout into your day, several shorter sessions may do just as much good. You can park in the remote lot when you run your errands. Get off the bus one stop before you get to your destination. Every step you take increases your chances of staying healthy.

- Lose weight. You should try to lose excess pounds before pregnancy. But if you are planning to get pregnant, losing extra weight beforehand might help you have a healthy pregnancy.

- Lifestyle changes. Focus on permanent lifestyle changes to your daily routine in eating, exercising, stress reduction, and holistic living.

- Motivate yourself. Motivate yourself by recalling the long-term Benefits of losing weight, such as a healthier heart, more energy, and enhanced self-esteem.

See: Garbh Sanskar Therapy To Manage Anxiety During Pregnancy

Natural Treatment for Gestational Diabetes

It's essential to track and control your blood sugar to keep your baby healthy and prevent complications during pregnancy and delivery. You will also need to keep a close eye on your upcoming blood sugar levels. Your treatment strategies may include:

1. Diet Therapy

Eating healthy portions is one of the best ways to control your blood glucose and prevent too much weight gain, which may put you at a higher risk of complications. Doctors do not advise losing weight during pregnancy - your body is working hard to support your growing baby. But your physician can help you set weight gain goals based on your weight before pregnancy.

Pregnant women need to consume a diet that provides adequate nutrition to be able to encourage their baby's and their particular well-being. It's extremely important that women that are pregnant do not consume too many calories, especially empty calories that come from processed and packaged foods, junk food, baked goods, and sweetened beverages. Achieving appropriate weight gain is one of the most important ways to prevent and manage gestational diabetes. During pregnancy, excessive weight gain may lead to adverse outcomes for both the mother and baby. Plus it can even lead to childhood obesity for your little one.

Whole grains -- foods that are high in nutrition and fiber and low in fat and calories -- and limit highly refined carbohydrates, including candies. No single diet is right for every woman. You may want to consult a registered dietitian or a diabetes educator to create a meal plan based on your current weight, pregnancy weight gain objectives, blood sugar level, exercise habits, food preferences, and budget.

- Make sure you're eating plenty of high fiber foods, Which can help slow down or reduce the release of insulin into the bloodstream. Include fiber in all your meals and snacks during the day. Pair your carbohydrates with great quality protein so That your body can more easily break down the carbs. Use healthy fats in your recipes, like coconut oil, ghee, and grass-fed butter. These foods help to burn fat and balance your blood glucose levels.

- Avoid sugary foods that will throw off your blood sugar levels. Simple, refined sugars that are found in soda, fruit juice, and other sweetened beverages are a few of the worst offenders for women with gestational diabetes because they lead to rapid blood glucose spikes.

2. Exercise

Exercise lowers your blood sugar by stimulating your body to move glucose into your cells, where it's used for energy. Exercise also increases your cells' sensitivity to insulin, so your body will have to produce less insulin to transport sugar. This has to be in every woman's wellness plan before, during, and after pregnancy.

Research shows that exercise may improve the glycemic index. Moderate physical activity for 30 minutes per day or more is recommended for all pregnant women and especially those who have gestational diabetes, provided that there aren't any medical or obstetric complications.

Some beneficial exercises for women with gestational diabetes include brisk walking, arm exercises while seated in a seat and prenatal yoga. Engaging in these types of physical activity at least 10 minutes after each meal can help reduce the rise of glucose levels, helping women with gestational diabetes to attain their glycemic goals.

As an added bonus, regular exercise can help alleviate some common discomforts of pregnancy, including back pain, muscle cramps, swelling, swelling, and trouble sleeping.

With your doctor's OK, aim for moderately vigorous when you haven't been active for a while, start slowly and build up gradually. Walking, cycling, and swimming are good choices during pregnancy. Regular activities such as housework and gardening also depend.

3. Stress Management

Women with gestational diabetes often experience stress and anxiety that is related to feeling like they're losing control, having trouble sticking to dietary adjustments, and experiencing fear of maternal and infant complications. Women with gestational diabetes also felt as though they didn't have enough social support from outside their loved ones.

This threat of increased stress, anxiety, and signs of depression during pregnancy is problematic because these mental health issues can affect your hormone levels, such as your insulin levels. Plus, studies reveal that stress, depression, and anxiety during pregnancy are associated with lower birth weight for infants and potential issues with infant growth. Experiencing stress and depression during pregnancy also increases your risk of suffering from postpartum depression after giving birth.

To manage your stress levels, begin by finding a support team who has experience with gestational diabetes and can help you to find relaxation and stay on track with your diet plan. You should also concentrate on relieving stress and anxiety by making lifestyle changes, like prenatal yoga, meditating, or a stroll, or taking a warm bath with lavender oil. These little changes can help you to stay focused on getting well and maintaining your health for the duration of your pregnancy.

4. Calcium

Eat calcium-rich foods such as yogurt, cheese, cooked kale, broccoli, and almonds. There's mixed research regarding the safety of calcium supplements and consuming very substantial levels of calcium, so speak to your physician before using supplements to raise your levels. 

5.  Ayurvedic Management of Gestational Diabetes:

Ayurveda focuses on the holistic lifestyle of the woman which helps in minimizing the complications associated with pregnancy. Ayurvedic management brings a balance of the doshas with the combination of a variety of herbs, diet changes, and lifestyle changes.

- Turmeric powder, barley, bitter gourd juice, Triphala, and Physical Activity with Pranayama and Yogasana are known to be beneficial.

- Curry leaves, spices such as garlic, garlic and fenugreek seeds, 2-3 servings of low fat and calcium-rich foods in the diet, and Cinnamon tea can also reduce the fasting blood sugar levels and also increases the insulin sensitivity but don't take cinnamon in surplus as it might cause involuntary contractions.

6. Acupuncture

In 2018, researchers in China published findings that showed how specific acupuncture points help improve symptoms of diabetes in rats with diabetes. They found that within fourteen days, the rats that received electroacupuncture had lower glucose levels, increased insulin levels, and improved glucose tolerance

A study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine reasoned that wrist-ankle acupuncture treatment may be a safe and effective procedure for treating pain, such as diabetic peripheral neuritis, and as a valid treatment for insulin resistance. The results suggested that low-intensity and low-frequency electroacupuncture might assist in reducing insulin resistance and increasing insulin sensitivity.

7. Medication. If diet and exercise are not enough, you may need insulin injections to lower your blood sugar. Between 10 and 20 percent of women with gestational diabetes need insulin to reach their blood sugar goals. Some doctors prescribe an oral blood sugar control medication, while others believe more research is required to confirm that oral drugs are as safe and as effective as injectable insulin to control gestational diabetes.

An important part of your treatment program is the close monitoring of your baby. Your doctor may monitor your baby's growth and development with repeated ultrasounds or other evaluations. If you don't go into labor by your due date - or sometimes earlier - your physician may induce labor. Delivering following your due date may increase the risk of complications for you and your baby.


See: Yoga & meditation for natural stress relief

References

1. CDC:  https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/gestational.html

2. Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gestational-diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20355339

3. JAMA: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2657590    December 2017

4. Association of History of Gestational Diabetes With Long-term Cardiovascular Disease Risk in a Large Prospective Cohort of US Women

5. Deirdre K. Tobias, ScD1,2; Jennifer J. Stuart, MSc3,4; Shanshan Li, ScD5; et al

6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4404472/

7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3921177/

8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4404472/

9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24874692

10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22838106

11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4447112/

12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4515446/

13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5645148/

14. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319618.php

15. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine  https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2014/261709/

See: Pranayama breathing exercises & poses

Get a Consultation
(650) 539-4545
Get more information via email