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.