Gestational Diabetes – Everything You Need to Know

Perhaps you have heard your midwife or medical team discuss gestational diabetes, or maybe your friend or a family member experienced this during their pregnancy. Whether you have just been told you have gestational diabetes, or you are just curious to find out more, we have written the below to hopefully answer all of your questions on this subject.

So, what is Gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes comes as a result of your body not producing enough insulin to meet your increased needs during pregnancy. This can cause problems for you and baby during pregnancy and postpartum, but early detection can reduce the risks associated. Therefore, if you are at high risk of developing gestational diabetes or if you are worried please speak to your midwife or medical practitioner.

When am I most at risk of Gestational diabetes?

This is most common in the 2nd or 3rd trimester, although it can happen during any stage. There are some factors which can increase your risk, these include:

  • A high BMI (of 30 or above)
  • If you are of Middle Eastern, Black, African-Caribbean, or Asian origin
  • If you had Gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy
  • If you have had a previous baby who weighed 10lbs or more at birth
  • If your parent(s) or siblings have diabetes

What are the symptoms?

There are not normally any symptoms of gestational diabetes. However, if your blood sugar levels are too high you can experience an increased thirst, needing to visit the toilet for a wee often, a dry mouth or tiredness. These symptoms are also prevalent during pregnancy so if you do have any symptoms please speak to your midwife or medical practitioner.

What are the treatments?

Treatments for gestational diabetes help by controlling your blood sugar levels. In order to do this, you will be provided with a testing kit so that you can monitor this. Sometimes you will be given tablets or injections which will help to lower your blood sugar levels.

There are some things you can do yourself which can help to control your blood sugar levels. This includes making healthy changes to your diet (you should be referred to a dietitian who can help you make some changes), and exercise (you will be given advice on how to safely exercise during pregnancy).

You will also be closely monitored and will be given additional ultrasounds to ensure that your baby is healthy. You may also be recommended a caesarean section or an induction if you do not give birth before 41 weeks.

I had Gestational diabetes in my previous pregnancy, what should I do?

If you are planning your next pregnancy and you had gestational diabetes previously you can ask your GP to arrange for a diabetes test. If you have diabetes you will be referred to a diabetes pre-conception clinic who will control your condition before you get pregnant. If you do not have diabetes you will be offered regular screening throughout your pregnancy.

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