When a woman is pregnant, there are higher chances to experience hypoglycemia. It is normal because the body is regulating and metabolizing glucose drastically. Hypoglycemia is common when the pregnant woman is diabetic or has gestational diabetes.
Hypoglycemia is the term that we use for having low blood sugar. This is not as simple as it looks. When the body is low on sugar, it is difficult to think and concentrate on anything. Extreme low sugar level can also cause fainting.
During pregnancy, women may experience the symptoms of hypoglycemia and are tested against diabetes. Diabetes is the most common reason behind feeling hypoglycemic symptoms in pregnancy.
This article will take a closer look at hypoglycemic conditions that arise during pregnancy and their effect on the baby.
Hypoglycemia in pregnancy
A woman has a high risk of destabilizing her body sugar during pregnancy. The results from a study on pregnant women with type-1 diabetes tell that 45% of them experienced hypoglycemic conditions. These symptoms were highest during the first and second trimester of the pregnancy.
The hormone insulin controls the sugar levels of the body. When a woman is pregnant, the body requirement of insulin increases because the placenta, the tube that attaches her to the baby produces more quantity of glucose. So all this extra glucose needs a proper regulation.
When the body is unable to produce sufficient amount of glucose, the women may develop a condition called gestational diabetes. Sometimes women may also become insulin resistant when the pregnancy prolongs. It makes their bodies less respondent to insulin.
As a result of all these things, there are more chances that she will eventually develop hyperglycemia, which is high blood sugar. But many of them also develop hypoglycemia, which is low blood sugar. Both these conditions keep on switching between each other.
Symptoms of hypoglycemia
Glucose is the energy supply of the body. When the body is low on glucose it feels difficult to perform its regular functions. The result is an extreme weakness, fatigue, confusion of mind and other similar symptoms.
These symptoms of hypoglycemia appear similar to when you starve for a day. Some other symptoms that may show up are as follows.
- Shaking and trembling
- A headache and spinning of the head
- Blurry vision Exhaustion
- Mood swings
- Angry feeling
- Irregular heartbeat
- Inability to think
- Paleness of skin
In case of severe hypoglycemia, these symptoms get worse. They may sometimes lead to seizures, convulsions, or a loss of consciousness.
What causes hypoglycemia in pregnancy?
When a woman suffers from hypoglycemia during pregnancy, the first thing to do is to talk to your doctor about it to find the root cause. There are two ways that hypoglycemia shows up during pregnancy.
- Reactive Hypoglycemia
This particular type of hypoglycemia only appears when the blood sugar levels are dropped within a few hours after you eat a meal. It is a typical condition for people with diabetes but sometimes it can also occur in those that don’t have diabetes.
- Fasting hypoglycemia
This is the second type of hypoglycemia that occurs when the blood sugar drops drastically low between two meals. This is not related including diabetes and is common to show up when a person has any other medical condition.
Diabetes in pregnancy
Diabetes is a leading reason behind hypoglycemia in pregnancy. You may think that hyperglycemia is even more common than hypoglycemia but the truth is that both of them can show up but at different stages of pregnancy.
When the blood pressure is high, it is mostly due to both type 1 diabetes when the body is incapable of producing sufficient insulin and type 2 diabetes when the body shows resistance to insulin.
Low blood pressure is not always caused by diabetes. You may also experience the symptoms of low blood pressure when you aren’t eating properly or are fasting. Occasionally other changes than sugar level cause hypoglycemia to take place. It means it is necessary for the women to eat a balanced diet and regularly check the blood sugar throughout the pregnancy.
Related: Pregnancy Complications
Do lifestyle factors matter in this case?
Yes, there are so many things that affect a disturbed blood sugar and lifestyle changes are one of them. It affects women more during pregnancy than any other factor. Not even diabetes has that high influence on a pregnant woman.
Some of these lifestyle changes that may cause hypoglycemia in pregnancy are
- Eating less than normal
- Exercising more than normal
- Consumption of alcohol
- Eating disorders
- Physical stress
What is the treatment for hyperglycemia?
The typical medicines for diabetes lower the blood sugar levels. But eating too much of it may put your health in a danger when blood sugar drops to a very low level. Some other medicines to lower blood sugar are as follows
- salicylates or pain relievers such as aspirin that is not recommended in pregnancy
- antibiotics such as sulfa drugs that need careful administration during pregnancy
- pentamidine that is a typical medicine for pneumonia
- quinine that is a typical treatment for malaria
What is the effect of low blood sugar on the baby?
When hypoglycemia is mild it may not harm the baby. You can say that hypoglycemia cannot harm the baby when it is not causing any harm to the mother. In most of the cases, just by balancing the diet or by using the basic medicines, this hypoglycemia is adjusted. So there is no risk to the baby in this case.
When hypoglycemia is severe, it puts the health of pregnant mother at risk. She may need a continuous monitoring or sometimes hospitalized too. When the mother is suffering from gestational diabetes, she is more likely to give birth to large size baby. It makes the natural vaginal delivery more difficult and painful. It also adds risk to the injury to both mother and baby during a natural birth.
Babies sometimes suffer from jaundice when their mothers are suffering from diabetes. the blood sugar of the mother drops very low shortly after giving the birth. That is why such women need continuous monitoring during and post delivery.
The severe complications related to hypoglycemia in pregnancy are only because of diabetes. when pregnant women who have diabetes, the labor becomes difficult. The babies born from such women need additional monitoring and care. This diabetes may become dangerous causing organ failure especially heart failure, blood circulatory problems, delayed healing and sometimes death.
The women with gestational diabetes experience an improvement in after pregnancy but the may experience the same condition again with any subsequent pregnancy. Not to forget, gestational diabetes is a big risk factor for diabetes type-2.
So any woman that has type 1 or type 2 diabetes needs a proper diabetic management during and after the pregnancy. Regardless of what causes hypoglycemia in pregnancy, the precise monitoring of both mother and the baby will prevent the risk of future complications.
There are multiple reasons for hypoglycemia to show up during pregnancy. Sometimes there is no root cause other than skipping a meal. Make sure that you are following a balanced diet in pregnancy. So even if hypoglycemia appears, it gets easier for the doctor to diagnose the cause. In any case, a proper management and care of the blood sugar will maintain the normal level in mother and indirectly in the baby.