How Dangerous Is Low Blood Sugar During Pregnancy?

low blood sugar during pregnancy. blood test

In the period of expectation of the child, the female body experiences rather serious loads. That’s why blood sugar during pregnancy can both rise and fall. Changes in the level of the blood sugar can be dangerous for future mothers and their children. However, in some cases, there is nothing to worry about. At the same time, during pregnancy, there may be minor problems of well-being, sometimes sharp dizziness, and nausea. This may also be connected with low blood sugar during pregnancy.

What Is Blood Sugar?

Blood sugar is the most important source of energy for many cells – muscle, fat, liver cells. Sugar enters the body with certain types of food (carbohydrates), as well as from the liver. The liver has a supply of sugar in the form of glycogen. Both these sources deliver sugar to the blood. Blood in its turn distributes it throughout the cells of the whole organism.

However, sugar cannot penetrate into the cells independently. The body produces a special substance – insulin which can be represented as a “key” that opens the cells of the body, allowing sugar to penetrate into the blood. The intake of sugar from the blood into the cells with the help of insulin leads to a decrease in its level in the blood. This is the mechanism of reducing blood sugar levels.

Insulin is a protein substance belonging to the class of hormones. It is formed in very small quantities. Insulin is produced by special beta-cells of the pancreas and comes directly into the blood.

If there is a lot of insulin and the lack of sugar, then there is the effect of hypoglycemia – a sharp decrease in blood sugar.

The Main Causes of Low Blood Sugar:

  • Long breaks between meals. A few hours after a meager meal, all the energy that has arrived with the food is exhausted.
  • Very small portions of food, low calorie diet. In cases when little energy is supplied with food, the sugar level may drop after all the glucose has been absorbed by the body (even if you consume food often enough). In these cases, hypoglycemia is a signal of malnutrition. To prevent this, increase the calorie intake and change your menu. Include more foods with a low glycemic index.
  • Eating too much sweets. When we eat sweet and starchy foods (products with a high glycemic index), sugar in the blood rises rapidly, causing an excessive production of insulin with a subsequent sharp decrease in glucose level. As a result of the decrease in blood sugar, there is a desire to eat something sweet again. So, any of the causes of hypoglycemia can lead to abuse of foods with a high glycemic index.

low blood sugar during pregnancy. pregnant woman eating ice cream

  • Intensive sport exercises. In the process of long training, the body can consume all available glucose reserves. This may cause symptoms of glycemia and you will not be able to continue the exercises further. To avoid this, athletes use carbohydrates in the form of foods or drinks before and after training. Sometimes even during a workout.
  • Consumption of carbonated and alcoholic beverages. Drinks containing a lot of sugar contribute to a rapid increase in blood sugar level. Alcohol drunk on an empty stomach, immediately enters the blood with all the ensuing consequences.

Glucose and Pregnancy

Glucose in the blood of a pregnant woman plays a very important role. Many future mothers know that during the period of gestation, its level in the blood may change. Glucose is also a universal source of energy and nutrient for the body of a pregnant woman.

Glucose during pregnancy provides energy to the fetus. This substance enters the body with carbohydrates (sugar, honey, starch, etc.) and is contained in all sweets. At a constant level, the concentration of glucose is maintained by the action of a complex hormonal process. Hormones are responsible for the level of glucose and for its concentration during pregnancy. The main hormone is insulin.

low blood sugar during pregnancy. Endocrine system

Increase and decrease of glucose level can be dangerous for the health of the future mother. It can cause various diseases. When a pregnant woman eats something sweet, the level of glucose rises, then insulin is released. It affects the development of glucose by cells and lowers its concentration in the blood. Still, insulin stores the body of a pregnant woman for the future. It is easy to determine the concentration of glucose using a biochemical blood test. Its level in the blood is set by a special measuring device – glucometer. The analysis is done on an empty stomach or eight hours after eating.

Symptoms of Low Blood Sugar during Pregnancy

Today it is very easy to determine low blood sugar during pregnancy. Low glucose during pregnancy is not a disease, but a state of health of a future mother. If you notice the following symptoms, immediately consult a doctor:

  • fatigue and weakness
  • headache, shivering, sweating
  • drowsiness, hunger and irritability
  • visual impairment
  • drowsiness and confusion of mind
  • seizures and coma.

Also, low blood sugar during pregnancy can be manifested during sleep (screams or conversations while sleeping, increased sweating, irritation, and a feeling of fatigue after sleep).

The Norm of Glucose in the Period of Gestation

The normal level of glucose in the blood of a pregnant woman should be between 3.3 and 5.5 mmol/l. When the indicator exceeds the specified rate in a pregnant woman – this is pathology.

The increase in sugar can be determined in the following ways:

  • general urine analysis
  • a glucose tolerance test during pregnancy
  • in peripheral blood on an empty stomach

low blood sugar during pregnancy. blood-test

Glucose tolerance test during pregnancy helps to detect diabetes. But, not all pregnant women do such a test, only those who are in the high risk group for the development of this disease (the birth of big children, obesity, heredity for diabetes, etc.).

Hypoglycemia during Pregnancy

Hypoglycemia is a pathological condition characterized by a low level of glucose in the blood (below 3.3 mmol/L).

Why does this syndrome develop and under what circumstances does it occur? Among the provocative factors there is, first of all, treatment for diabetes with insulin and, as a consequence, overdosing with it. It is known that patients with diabetes mellitus are prone to hypoglycemia.

Among other reasons, there is dehydration of the body and improper diet, the consumption of refined carbohydrates and a deficiency of mineral salts, fiber, and vitamins. In addition, late eating or inadequate nutrition, irrational diets aimed at losing weight at any cost, including inadequate physical activity, long-term illnesses and treatment by intravenous saline, insufficiency of certain organs such as kidneys, liver and heart, hormonal disorders and tumors – all these factors make up a long list of causes of hypoglycemia. A particular type is hypoglycemia in infants of the first year of life. It can be caused by products containing fructose or galactose.

Symptoms of Hypoglycemia

  • excitement, worry, anxiety, and fear;
  • muscular tremor;
  • cardiopalmus;
  • skin pallor;
  • dizziness and headache;
  • increased feeling of hunger.

Symptoms and Causes of Low Blood Sugar during Pregnancy

Symptoms of low blood sugar during pregnancy can sometimes manifest very slowly or, conversely, swiftly and suddenly in a short time, ranging from discomfort to the loss of consciousness. Fatigue, headache, weakness, convulsions, slight dizziness, trembling of hands, excessive sweating – these symptoms are most often observed in those who receive sugar-lowering drugs as the treatment for diabetes. Low blood sugar during pregnancy can be formed because of diseases of the pituitary and adrenal glands, autoimmune problems, kidney or heart failure. The condition after the stomach surgery can also become a reason for low blood sugar during pregnancy.

low blood sugar during pregnancy. bad feeling during pregnancy

A special condition of the woman’s organism when hormonal processes are activated is pregnancy. During this period all kinds of changes take place in the body. Metabolism undergoes changes, enzyme reactions are rebuilt, appetite is increased, and unusually low level of sugar in blood is noted as well. At this time, it is better to constantly monitor blood sugar and the symptoms of diabetes. Glucose is the basic material that provides energy for the fetus and the mother. The consumption of glucose increases with the progression of pregnancy. At the same time, there is an increase as in the secretion of hyperglycemic hormones, as in hypoglycemic hormone – insulin. As a result, the blood sugar level in pregnant women remains normal and the need for glucose in the mother and fetus is assured.

How Does Low Blood Sugar during Pregnancy Affect Gestation?

For future mothers, it is extremely important to monitor glucose level. Its decrease is not less dangerous than increase. High and low blood sugar during pregnancy both negatively affect the condition and development of the fetus. If there is lack of glucose in the bloodstream, the fetal cells do not get enough nutrition in the proper amount. In this situation, babies are often born with a weight deficit or premature, as well as with various congenital pathologies of the endocrine system.

To prevent sudden or prolonged falls of the glucose level, a woman should eat more often. At the same time, the food should be of a minimal glycemic index. Thus, it will take much longer to digest. Therefore, glucose will enter the body and blood in small doses. This will prevent spasmodic sugar rises and relieve the body of the need to activate the increased production of insulin.

low blood sugar during pregnancy. pregnancy diet

Serious deviations of the indicators from the norm can provoke unpredictable consequences from a slight deterioration in the general well-being of the woman, to spontaneous termination of pregnancy. That’s why it is so important to take care of low blood sugar during pregnancy. It is also of great significance to carefully monitor glucose level and prevent not only its decrease but also an increase. If a woman had problems with blood sugar before the conception of the child, then it is recommended to purchase a glucometer and check the blood sugar content on a daily basis.

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  1. 1

    I am so worried. I have had type 1 diabetes for over 30 years and am expecting. I have had very low glucose levels. ( under 50 mg/dL) during this pregnancy. I have had low glucose with seizures (at least 3 episodes), all because I was too worried about having high blood sugars and I gave too much insulin to correct them. Now I am reading the consequences of low blood sugar levels on the fetus and it is hard not to despair of what I have caused my baby. I don’t know what to do with myself except to pray and hope everything turns out ok. I am managing my blood sugar better now….worried about past mistakes.

    • 2

      Same here! I have been so worried about high blood sugar that I have been taking extra insulin and have had lows almost every day. Now reading this I am worried as well. I’ve had diabetes T1 for 23 years and I’m 20 weeks pregnant. My doctor never really seemed concerned about the lows. Now I’m paranoid.

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