What is Diabetes?
Usually before becoming pregnant we know of Type-1 and Type-2 Diabetes Mellitus, however, we usually have not yet come across the term Gestational Diabetes, which is a condition that uniquely affects some pregnant women.
DM (Diabetes Mellitus) is primarily an insulin-level disease, as insulin is the hormone that facilitates our body’s cell tissue converting glucose (blood sugar) into energy.
Type-1 IDDM (Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus) is when a person is born unable to produce normal insulin levels, and this is usually diagnosed during childhood or adolescence. IDDM is treated by supplementing the body’s insulin through tablets or injections.
Type-2 NIDDM (Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus) is typically associated with aging, due to inadequate levels of insulin production and/or increasing insulin resistance and/or Western lifestyle of very rich diets (now becoming more commonly diagnosed in younger generations due to childhood obesity).
But the big problem with Diabetic insulin imbalances, it is an escalating downward spiral: As cellular tissue becomes low in glucose energy, the body releases higher and higher levels of glucose sugar into the bloodstream to feed the “starving” cells. But it is not the lack of blood sugar that is the problem – the problem is the lack of insulin for cell tissue to convert the glucose into energy. This leads to worsening hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar) which can cause serious permanent damage to blood vessels.
Type-3 GDM (Gestational Diabetes Mellitus) is a unique phenomenon within the physiology of pregnancy:
Pregnancy hormones increase the mother’s insulin resistance, to boost energy available to the baby, resulting in the mother’s insulin levels doubling by the 3rd trimester. But, if the pregnant woman’s pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to keep up with demand, then she will develop high blood sugar (hyperglycaemia) – and all its subsequent pathological complications.
Diagnosing & Treating GDM
Our renal kidneys filter (clean) our blood, excreting our urine as waste product, so an early sign can be detecting glucose in urine. This is because when our nephrons (kidney cells) are bombarded with sugar-rich hyperglycaemic blood, it damages their glomerulus capillaries allowing large glucose molecules to leak into the urine. Subsequently, midwives routinely ask pregnant women to do a urine dipstick test at each antenatal appointment.