Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy because the mother’s body is not producing enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body break down sugar to be used as energy; if the body is not producing enough insulin the amount of blood sugar rises.
How does it affect my pregnancy?
This develops in pregnancy when some hormones begin to work against how insulin usually operates. High blood sugar levels in the mother’s body that are passed through the placenta to the developing baby can affect the baby’s health.
Gestational diabetes occurs in the second half of pregnancy usually in weeks 22-24. Pregnant women over the age of 35 are more prone to the development. Those with a family history of Type 2 Diabetes or are overweight or obese, or have previously had a baby weighing over 9lbs, 15oz are also more prone to it during pregnancy.
What are the symptoms of gestational diabetes?
It can be hard to detect as it main symptoms are fatigue and frequent urination. Pregnant women usually experience these symptoms anyway. High blood sugar is usually picked up when having a blood test and then confirmed with a glucose tolerance test.
What happens when I’m diagnosed with gestational diabetes?
Although most women diagnosed go on to have perfectly healthy babies, some have an increased risk of:
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 Diabetes in adulthood
- Obesity in adulthood
It can also cause problems during labour if it somehow went undetected during pregnancy.
How can I avoid gestational diabetes?
Dietary changes and exercise may be enough to keep your blood sugar levels under control, though sometimes medication is needed too. After birth gestational diabetes goes away, however, about 30 per cent of women can go on to develop Type 2 Diabetes within five years of giving birth. Studies have shown women who are overweight or obese have a higher chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
Keep an active lifestyle, eat healthily and try to maintain a healthy weight.