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Gestational Diabetes: Sweet Yet Bitter

Posted: November 15, 2010

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Yesterday, November 14th is mostly known for being Children’s Day. When I was in school (seems like a long time ago!) along with birthdays and holidays this was a much awaited day! What fun – with teachers putting up skits and dance performances, kids running around in their best colour dresses , no classes AND lots of free chocolates to stuff one s face with Maybe that is why, by some twisted plan of the universe, it has also been chosen as World Diabetes Day!

Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder, where there is too much unused/unusable sugar in the human body. This is either because there is insufficient insulin produced by the pancreas, which is known as Type 1 Diabetes or Juvenile Diabetes as this can affect even small children. Alternatively it could also be because insulin is not used properly by the body, which is Type 2 Diabetes, commonly affecting older people. The third type is Gestational Diabetes and this affects pregnant women.

One of my friends, Shireen who has a cute little girl baby now, says that it was the most dreadful phase of her life. Added to the vagaries of pregnancy, she had to also contend with umpteen dietary restrictions; but according to her the worst part was to have to constantly monitor my blood glucose level on the glucometer and inject myself with insulin accordingly especially because Shireen used to be terrified of needles and injections!

Gestational diabetes flares up during the later stages of pregnancy and generally disappears once the baby is born. But women who develop gestational diabetes are more prone to acquire it again at a later stage in life. Though the cause is unknown yet, it seems to be hereditary.

Increased thirst, frequent urination, increased hunger, fatigue and non-healing wounds are some of the symptoms of diabetes. If left untreated, the immune system is weakened; blood flow to the various organs is compromised hence impairing their proper functioning due to which the limbs may develop gangrene. It is also a leading cause of blindness. In pregnant women, it may lead to complications such as premature labour, intrauterine deaths or a particularly large baby (macrosomia) which makes delivery a difficult process (as if it already isn t!)

There is no cure as such for diabetes. It can only be kept under control. Diet forms the basis of any treatment. Having 4-5 small meals instead of conventional three large meals, including lots of green leafy veggies, salads, nuts, whole meal breads and dairy products helps. Avoid smoking. Maintain an ideal body weight and mild exercises such as walking and Yoga, are also highly beneficial.

Awareness and a healthy lifestyle is an important part of living with diabetes. Discuss your concerns with your doctor, research and read up on the subject and connect with women who have had similar experiences.

Anne John loves to play with words and calls herself a reader, writer, explorer & dreamer.

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