Gestational diabetes is fairly common – it is thought to affect about 18% of pregnant women. It usually develops in the middle/end of pregnancy
and it happens because your body can’t produce enough insulin to regulate your blood glucose during pregnancy.
Who is at a greater risk of developing gestation diabetes?
You are at a higher risk if:
You have a BMI of 30 or higher
You have previously given birth to a large baby, weighing atleast 10lbs
You have had gestational diabetes before
You have a parent, brother or sister with diabetes
Your family origin is South Asian, Chinese, African-Caribbean or Middle Eastern
Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT)
If you have any of the above risk factors you may be offered a blood test in early pregnancy along
with a GTT when you are 24-28 weeks pregnant.
A GTT involves having a blood test first thing in the morning, before you have any food.
You will then be given a glucose drink and your blood will be tested again
about 2 hours later to check your body’s reaction to the glucose.
Extra care in pregnancy
If you have gestational diabetes it is important to control your insulin levels. You will probably see a specialist diabetes midwife
as well as a dietician so there will be more clinic visits at the hospital throughout your pregnancy.
Exercise is important as is healthy eating – the dietician will be able to recommend food to help stabilise your blood glucose.
You will be shown how to monitor your blood glucose and you may need medication to help to stabilise it: 1 in 5 women need additional medication.
You will be offered more scans to monitor the growth of your baby.
The concerns with gestational diabetes are:
If your baby produces more insulin he may grow bigger which increases the chances of you needing an induction of
labour or a caesarean
That your baby may need additional care in a neonatal unit
These risks are higher if gestational diabetes is not detected and controlled.
Having a diagnosis of gestational diabetes means you will be advised to have your baby in an obstetric unit,
which has a Special Care Baby Unit.
You may be offered an induction or a caesarean if your baby is considered too big.
During labour your glucose levels will be monitored and you may need a glucose drip to stabilise your blood glucose.
After the birth
Your baby will have his blood glucose tested and he might need closer monitoring if it is low or if he appears to be unwell.
You might need to stay in hospital for atleast 24 hours after your baby is born to ensure he is feeding well and
that his glucoses levels are stable.
Your blood will also be tested before you go home to check it has returned to normal – gestational diabetes usually clears up after
birth but a small number of women do continue to have diabetes.
An annual blood glucose test should be recommended as 1 in 3 women will develop Type II diabetes within 5 years of the pregnancy.