Gestational diabetes is diabetes diagnosed for the first-time during pregnancy (gestation).
Like other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes affects how your cells use sugar (glucose). Gestational diabetes causes high blood sugar that can affect your pregnancy and your baby's health.
While any pregnancy complication is concerning, there is good news. Expectant mothers can help control gestational diabetes by eating healthy foods, exercising and, if necessary, taking medication. Controlling blood sugar can keep you and your baby healthy and prevent a difficult delivery.
Managing gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes is diagnosed during pregnancy when your body cannot cope with the extra demand for insulin production resulting in high blood glucose levels.
There are three basic components in effectively managing gestational diabetes:
- monitoring blood glucose levels
- adopting a healthy eating routine
- regular physical activity
Gestational diabetes can often initially be managed with healthy eating and regular physical activity. However, for some women with gestational diabetes, insulin injections will be necessary for the rest of the pregnancy. Approximately 10 – 20% of women will need insulin; however, once the baby is born insulin is no longer needed. This is safe for both you and your baby.
After the baby is born, gestational diabetes usually disappears. A special blood glucose test (Oral Glucose Tolerance Test) (OGTT) is performed six weeks after delivery to ensure that blood glucose levels have returned to normal. However, women who have had gestational diabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life and should be tested for diabetes at least every 2 – 3 years.
Can gestational diabetes affect my baby?
If gestational diabetes is not well looked after (blood glucose levels remain high) it may result in problems such as a large baby, miscarriage, and stillbirth. A large baby can create the risk of injury at delivery, caesarean delivery, forceps delivery and a need for the baby to be looked after in special care until the glucose level stabilises after delivery. Other complications may include pregnancy loss and premature delivery. If any problems occur, the hospital will care for you and your baby.
It is recommended that you check for diabetes:
- At least every 2 to 3 years
- Before planning a pregnancy
- If you are feeling unwell
If you have any concerns, please discuss with our friendly team we are here to support you and your family throughout your entire journey.