Child bearing brings variety to ration: one day you want something salty, another day – sour or sweet. How to refrain from temptation to eat a scoop of ice-cream or lollipops when you want them so badly? Let us get all this straightened out and uncover if pregnant women are allowed to eat sugar or not.
It is well known that organism tries to make up for shortfall of some substances (such as calcium) by means of glucose. Dependence on delicious chocolate bar is very often of psychologic character, since it is pleasant to eat your troubles with a candy. But doctors keep warning that sweets are harmful. Their composition includes easily digested carbohydrates which quickly get absorbed in blood and cause the increase of blood sugar level. Insulin starts producing in order to decrease sugar level, but if organism consumed too much sugar, this hormone may be not enough to decrease it. This condition causes gestational diabetes.
Pregnant women with diabetes will have to observe their sugar level constantly, since the main danger lies in sugar capacity to get into fetus’s blood circulation causing overweight and some post-natal issues. Besides, sugar detains water and may cause occurrence of undesired edemas.
Diabetes in Pregnant Women
Blood sugar level increase during pregnancy is called gestational diabetes. In comparison with permanent diabetes, this type disappears post-partum. High blood sugar level may cause problems for you and your child. A child may grow too big resulting in difficulties while labor. Besides, a baby may have oxygen defect (hypoxia).
Fortunately, correct and timely treatment of most future mothers with diabetes will give a chance to deliver a sound child independently. It is confirmed that those who had high blood sugar level during pregnancy tend to acquire diabetes with age. This risk may be reduced by means of weight control and regular physical activity.
Why Does Sugar Level Grow?
Generally, blood sugar level is controlled by means of insulin which is emitted by pancreatic gland. Under insulin action, glucose is transferred from food to body cells, and its blood level decreases. At the same time, pregnancy hormones produced by placenta have contrariwise action in comparison with insulin, i.e. they increase blood sugar level. Impact on pancreatic gland enhances and it is not able to cope with its function in some cases. As a result, glucose level in blood surpasses norm.
Excessive sugar level in blood impairs metabolism in both, mother and child. The point is that glucose penetrates through placenta to child’s blood circulation and enhances load on this small pancreatic gland. Baby’s pancreatic gland has to work with double load and produce more insulin. This excessive insulin speeds up glucose digestion considerably and turns it into fat resulting in bigger fetus weight.
Such accelerated metabolism in a child requires a lot of oxygen, whereas its provision is restricted. This condition causes oxygen shortage and hypoxia.
Gestational diabetes aggravates from 3 to 10% of pregnancies.
The highest risk is met in those future mothers who appear to have one or several following signs:
- High degree obesity;
- Diabetes during preceding pregnancy;
- Sugar in urine;
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome;
- First-degree relatives suffering from diabetes.
The least risk of diabetes is for those who combine the following criteria:
- Age under 25 years;
- Normal weight before pregnancy;
- Absence of diabetes in first-degree relatives;
- No cases of high blood sugar level;
- No complications during pregnancy.
Pregnancy Diabetes Signs
Very often future mother may even not suspect of gestational diabetes, since it doesn’t show itself in mild cases. That is why it is important to undergo blood glucose test. In case of the slightest sugar increase, a doctor prescribes a more thorough examination which is called ‘oral glucose tolerance test’ or ‘a 24-hour glycaemic profile’.
This method lies in not fasted measurement of sugar, but in intake of a glass of water with diluted glucose.
- Normal indicators of blood sugar on an empty stomach: 3.3 – 5.5 mmol/L.
- Pre-diabetes (impaired glucose tolerance): blood sugar on an empty stomach is more than 5.5, but less than 7.1 mmol/L.
- Diabetes: blood sugar on an empty stomach more than 7.1 mmol/L or more than 11.1 mmol/L after glucose intake.
Since blood sugar level is diverse at different time of the day. Sometimes it may not be exposed during examination. There is one more test to check it which is called glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c). Glycosylated (i.e. connected with glucose) hemoglobin reflects the level of sugar in blood over not the present day, but the preceding ones (7-10 days). If once a time, blood sugar level is higher than norm, the test HbA1c will detect it. For this purpose, it is practiced on a wide scale in order to control the quality of diabetes therapy.
Mild and severe cases of diabetes may be manifested in the following ways:
- Strong thirst;
- Frequent and opulent urination;
- Keen hunger;
- Blurred vision.
Since pregnant women are often thirsty and hungry, these symptoms are not direct indication to diabetes. Only regular testing and doctor’s examination will prevent from its occurrence.
Dietary Regimen for Pregnancy
The crucial purpose of diabetes treatment of pregnant women is maintenance of normal sugar level in blood at any specific time: either before or after food. Moreover, it is obligatory to eat not less than 6 times a day in order to ensure that nutrients and energy supply is proportional during the day and to avoid sudden changes of blood sugar levels.
In case of diabetes, diet should not include easily digested carbohydrates (sugar, sweets, jam, etc.), whereas quantity of complex carbohydrate must be restricted to 50 per cent of the overall food amount. The rest 50 per cent should be allocated between proteins and lipids. Calories amount and particular menu should be approved by a dietarian.
The Role of Physical Activity
First, active exercises in fresh air enhance oxygen supply to blood which is so important for fetus. This procedure improves metabolism as well.
Second, physical exertion causes emission of excessive sugar and its blood level decreases considerably.
Third, training helps to spend deposited calories, stop gain of overweight and even reduce it. It will alleviate insulin’s functioning, whereas a lot of fat aggravates it.
What about Insulin?
Insulin is absolutely harmless for mother and fetus during pregnancy if it is applied correctly. It doesn’t build up tolerance; therefore, after labor, it may be cancelled without any adverse consequences. Insulin is used in those cases when diet and physical activity are not efficient, i.e. glucose level remains increased. In some cases, a doctor takes decision to prescribe insulin right away, if required.
In case your attending doctor prescribes insulin for you, there is no reason to refuse it. The majority of fears connected with its application are nothing but prejudice. The only condition for correct insulin therapy is distinct fulfilling of all doctor’s recommendations (a patient should not miss the dose or administration time or change them on his own), as well as timely delivery of medical tests.
In case you take insulin, you’ll need to measure blood sugar level several times a day by means of special gadget (glucometer). First, the necessity of such frequent measurement may seem very strange, but it is important for thorough control over glycaemia (blood sugar). Indications of this gadget are to be written in a note-book and shown to an attending doctor during consultation.