Having a healthy baby is every couple’s dream, with ‘healthy’ being the key word. Every new parent will do everything in their power to ensure their unborn child is safe from any type of threat. “Gestational diabetes is one of the threats that they must be aware of,” says Dr. Kiran. Dr. Kiran B Nair, CEO, of Sreeragam Ayurveda, Kochi, Kerala talks about the long-term and short-term effects of gestational diabetes and how to avoid them.
Gestational diabetes is a condition where the blood glucose level goes up during pregnancy. This is due to the hormonal changes occurring in the body which results in the development of insulin resistance. It usually begins in the 24th week of pregnancy. “Gestational diabetes tends to resolve by itself after delivery in most cases. However, it would be a grave mistake to take it lightly thinking it is a transient condition,” says Dr. Kiran. It is very important to keep gestational diabetes under control because if left unchecked it can cause multiple problems for both the baby and the mother
Gestational diabetes can lead to a lot of complications during delivery. It increases the risk of the baby being overweight which in turn can cause delivery-related risks like labor complications, early induction of labor, C-sections, etc. It also leads to pre-eclampsia identified by swelling of ankles and legs due to water retention. Other complications to the baby include low blood sugar, low iron levels, perinatal asphyxia, etc. Long-term risks to the baby include a higher risk of developing obesity, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, heart conditions, etc.
Gestational diabetes can also have adverse effects on the mother’s health in the long run. “Women who have gestational diabetes tend to become diabetic in the next few years. They are also at risk of developing gestational diabetes in their following pregnancies,” says Dr. Kiran.
Ayurveda focuses on improving overall health thereby encouraging the body to restore balance. This is achieved through Ayurvedic medicines, treatment regimes, and diet. “The challenge in treating gestational diabetes is that we cannot give these women the same medicines we give other diabetic patients. This is because we must consider not only the mother’s health but also the fetus’,” says Dr. Kiran.
“There have been cases where pregnant women try to control their diet without any supervision in the hope of bringing their sugar levels down to the acceptable range. This is highly dangerous because the growing fetus needs nutrients for proper development,” warns Dr. Kiran. Unsupervised dietary restrictions can make the mother feel hungry, tired, and depressed, and make them lose weight in an unhealthy manner. Therefore, it is essential to continuously monitor sugar levels and consult an expert regularly to keep blood sugar levels under control. “At Sreeragam Ayurveda, we personalize the diet and medications after taking all factors into consideration,” says Dr. Kiran.
Dr. Kiran believes that it is important to address and manage gestational diabetes in a timely manner to break the vicious cycle of diabetes.