Gestational Diabetes with Twins: What You Need to Know
Gestational diabetes with twins is a complication in pregnancy. Although in most cases, this is a temporary form of diabetes caused by the body not producing enough insulin that regulates sugar in a pregnancy, it is still important to know how it can affect you and your babies.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes happens when the body changes in how it responds to insulin. Insulin ushers out glucose from the blood and into the cells, so it gets used as energy. When a woman is pregnant, the cells in her body become a bit resistant to insulin which leads to the increase in sugar levels in her blood. This happens so that the babies have more nutrients available. But if the glucose level is extremely high, problems can happen.
What are the signs and symptoms of gestational diabetes?
The American Pregnancy Organization states that the symptoms of gestational diabetes include sugar in the urine, unusual thirst, urinating frequently, nausea, fatigue, blurred vision and frequent vaginal, bladder, and skin infections.
About two to five percent of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes. This number increases to about seven to nine percent in women who are likely to have risk factors. This is why it is good to be tested usually between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. It is at this time when the placenta produces high levels of hormones that contribute to insulin resistance.
How will gestational diabetes affect me and my babies?
Mothers who develop gestational diabetes are at great risk for a number of conditions. These include preeclampsia, preterm birth, cesarean delivery, stillbirth, and shoulder dystocia. When it comes to the babies, they may have low glucose levels, breathing problems, jaundice, obesity in childhood, and the risk of developing diabetes when they are older.
Can I breastfeed if I have gestational diabetes?
Yes, as a matter of fact, breastfeeding is recommended for women with gestational diabetes. It proved the best nutrition for your babies and can help you go back to your pre-pregnancy weight.
Once a woman gives birth, gestational diabetes commonly disappears. An Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) is usually performed six weeks after a woman has delivered her baby. However, women who developed gestational diabetes have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Because of these, women should be tested at least every two to three years, and especially before planning another pregnancy. It is also necessary to have glucose levels checked whenever a woman feels under the weather.
Who is at risk of gestational diabetes?
Women who are at risk of developing gestational diabetes have a family history of type 2 diabetes or has a first-degree relative (a mother or a sister) who has had gestational diabetes. Women who are 40 years or over, or who are above the healthy weight range, or have experienced elevated blood sugar levels in the past may develop GD. Aside from that, women who are from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, as well as those who are from a Melanesian, Chinese, Polynesian, Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern, or Indian backgrounds can likewise develop gestational diabetes.
Others at risk include those who have had gestational diabetes in previous pregnancies, have had polycystic ovary syndrome, have given birth to a large baby that weighs more than 4.5 kg, are taking steroid or anti-psychotic medications, and those who have gained weight too fast in the first half of pregnancy.
How is gestational diabetes with twins managed?
Managing gestational diabetes involves managing blood glucose levels, making sure to adhere to a healthy dietary plan, and engaging in physical activity regularly. Others may need insulin injections throughout the pregnancy. But once the babies are born, insulin will no longer be needed because gestational diabetes usually disappears at this time. If gestational diabetes is managed effectively, this will surely reduce the risks of complications during pregnancy as well as giving birth to your babies.
How is self-blood glucose monitoring done?
To do this on your own, you would need to procure a blood glucose meter, a lancet device with lancets, and test strips. These usually come in kits. This test begins with pricking your finger with the lancet. After that, a drop of blood is placed onto the testing strip which then gets inserted into the meter and reads our blood glucose level.
Your healthcare provider will be giving specific instructions as to when and how often you would need to do this test. But usually, doctors recommend that the tests be taken either before breakfast (after fasting), before lunch, before dinner, two hours after a meal, before bed, before exercising, and when you are not feeling well. Keeping a record of your blood glucose levels is certainly ideal.
What is the ideal dietary eating plan if I have gestational diabetes?
Being sure of maintaining a healthy eating plan will help manage and keep the blood glucose levels within the target range. Another positive result of this is that it will provide the right nutrition for the pregnant mom and the growing babies. And of course, if eating well will help mothers achieve the proper weight gain throughout the pregnancy.
- With this, women with gestational diabetes are advised to:
- Have small frequent feedings
- Be sure to include carbohydrates in every meal and snack
- Choose foods that are a delight to eat but are rich in nutrients like calcium, iron, folic acid, and food with low saturated fat.
- Prefer food with high fibre and avoid sugary food and drinks
- Choose basmati or doongara rice which has a lower glycemic index and leaves the stomach feeling fuller for longer periods of time
- Consider alternative sweeteners
Although gestational diabetes with twins is a potential problem, managing this effectively will significantly reduce the risks that go along with it. It is important to keep consulting a health professional regarding this condition all throughout the pregnancy until giving birth.