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10 Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes

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  • The symptoms of gestational diabetes are fairly similar to the symptoms of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
  • You may think that it’s just a normal phase you’re going through during pregnancy, but you may already have gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a special type of diabetes that occurs only among pregnant women. While unique, the mechanics of how the disease causes health problems remain the same — high levels of glucose in the bloodstream will eventually lead to complications.1

The symptoms of gestational diabetes are similar to the symptoms of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. However, the symptoms are often hard to spot, as they may be mistaken for typical changes experienced during pregnancy. If you’re pregnant and you’re nearing your 24th week, here are some of the symptoms that you should watch out for:

  1. Blurred vision
  2. Increased urination
  3. Fatigue
  4. Nausea and vomiting
  5. Frequent vaginal and bladder infections
  6. Sugar content in urine
  7. Increased thirst
  8. Unexplained weight loss (despite having increased appetite)
  9. Slow-healing wounds
  10. Tingling or numbness in the limbs

If you’ve observed any of these symptoms, it is highly recommended that you consult a doctor as soon as possible. You may think that it’s just a normal phase you’re going through during pregnancy, but you may already have gestational diabetes.

A formal diagnosis will help you come up with lifestyle modifications and avoid possible complications that may arise from the poor regulation of glucose in your body. This will also ensure that your and your child’s safety.

Watch Out for Symptoms Caused by Gestational Diabetes Complications

Due to the numerous life-threatening complications of gestational diabetes, it would be good to also be aware of their symptoms. Two of these are preeclampsia and preterm birth, which are possibly the most life-threatening for both mother and child.

If you’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes and you’ve been feeling ill, it would be a wise decision that you strike out any possible conditions that may be causing your discomfort.

Warning Signs of Preeclampsia to Be Aware Of

Preeclampsia is a condition marked by high blood pressure, as well as signs of damage to other organs in your body, typically the liver and kidneys, here are some of the symptoms that you should be looking out for:2

High blood pressure — This refers to blood pressure exceeding 130/90.3

To properly determine whether your blood pressure is higher than normal, measurements should be taken twice six hours apart.

Note that even if high blood pressure is not caused by preeclampsia, it can still be dangerous for both mother and child if not maintained.

It can damage the mother’s kidneys and other organs, and cause early delivery and low birth weight.

Nausea, agitation and vomiting during mid-pregnancy

Fluid retention — While swelling is fairly normal in pregnancy, excessive water retention in the face and hands may be caused by preeclampsia

Weight gain of more than 2 pounds per week

Blood in the urine

Vision problems, such as sensitivity to light, blurry eyesight and flashing spots

Headaches or migraines that do not go away

Abdominal pain that is typically felt on the right side

Lower back pain, which may indicate a liver problem

Hyperreflexia, a condition wherein your reflexes become strong

It’s important to have regular checkups from your doctor to monitor your vital signs for any significant changes. They will be able to determine if you’re developing preeclampsia, which will allow you to receive early treatment.

Preeclampsia may also cause potential problems for your baby as well. If symptoms are severe, your doctor may endorse a cesarean delivery (C-section) to facilitate a speedy delivery for your baby. Potential complications of gestational diabetes on babies include:4

  • Fetal growth restriction — Preeclampsia affects the arteries that carry blood to the placenta. This can cause low birth weight because the baby is receiving inadequate blood and nutrients.
  • Preterm birth — Severe symptoms brought on by preeclampsia may necessitate an early delivery to prevent damage to your organs and to protect your baby as well. However, the main downside is that your child may develop breathing problems after birth.
  • Placental abruption — This is a condition wherein the placenta separates from the inner wall of your uterus before delivery, which can cause heavy bleeding.
  • HELLP syndrome — A complication that stands for hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and low platelet count, which can result in multiple organ damage.
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Gestational Diabetes Can Also Cause Preterm Birth

As mentioned above, preeclampsia may cause preterm birth, which is especially life-threatening for the child. If you’re pregnant and you suddenly feel the following symptoms, contact your doctor immediately:

  • Excessive vaginal discharge — You might notice an increase in vaginal discharge that is either watery or mucus-like.5 In some cases, amniotic fluid may also start leaking from the uterus.
  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting — While bleeding during the first few days of pregnancy is normal, the risks increases as it happens further down the pregnancy. If the vaginal bleeding is accompanied by diarrhea and cramping, this might be indicative of preterm labor.6
  • Menstrual-like pain — You might feel a dull pain on the lower part of your abdomen, which is reminiscent of menstrual cramps.
  • Pressure on the pelvic area — You might feel pressure on your pelvic bone, with mothers noting that they feel like they have to have a bowel movement but are unable to do so.
  • Low back pain — The back pain that preterm labor causes may come and go and may not be relieved by changing positions.

If you suffer from preterm labor, your child has a higher chance of suffering from breathing problems, brain hemorrhage and numerous infections. Long-term effects of preterm labor include chronic lung disease, vision and hearing impairment, and developmental issues.7

Possible Complications of Undiagnosed Gestational Diabetes

There are cases wherein gestational diabetes does not show any obvious signs. This shows how important testing is for this condition. The indiscernible symptoms of gestational diabetes may also deal great amounts of damage to both mother and child if left undiagnosed.

In a 2014 study conducted in Northern California, researchers found that women who suffered from gestational diabetes at some point in their life had a higher chance of suffering from early heart disease. The study shows that women who had gestational diabetes had thicker carotid arteries as compared to women who did not.8

Another serious complication from undiagnosed gestational diabetes is preeclampsia, or pregnancy-induced hypertension. Your risk of developing this condition is heightened if it is your first pregnancy, if you’re carrying twins, or if you’re over the age of 40.9

Gestational Diabetes May Cause Symptoms in Babies, Too

Gestational diabetes creates several risks for babies, and some of these risks carry well into the future. For example, they may develop hypoglycemia, which is a condition caused by low blood sugar levels. This is because when the baby is born, insulin production is high, which can lead to seizures that will need to be treated right away by increasing sugar levels to a normal range.10

Babies born early due to gestational diabetes may also develop respiratory distress syndrome, a condition that makes breathing difficult. Depending on the severity, various treatments may be required, such as oxygen supplementation.11

Another thing that you should watch out for when you have gestational diabetes is macrosomia, which is the medical term for a baby with a heavy birth weight. Unborn children can grow large because of the excess sugar in your blood that turns into fat.12

A child with a birth weight of 9 pounds or more has a chance of becoming wedged in the birth canal, which can result in injuries to both the baby and the mother. In cases like these, a C-section may be required.13

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