Gestational Diabetes

This refers to diabetes which occurs in about 5% of women who are pregnant. During pregnancy, a woman’s body experiences significant hormonal changes. These changes have an effect on how the body uses insulin to get to glucose (sugar) into the cells. These changes cause the body to not use insulin well which leads to insulin resistance (a condition where the cells don’t respond well to insulin and glucose cannot get to the required destination of need).

The occurrence of gestational diabetes can increase the health risk to the baby if not observed closely. It is usually temporary, as it tends to resolve after childbirth; nonetheless it has been known to increase the mother and child’s risk to developing type 2 diabetes in the future.  The pre-disposition of developing type2 diabetes, reinforces the significance of understanding the health risk and adapting modifiable factors to reduce the occurrence of gestational diabetes.

In gestational diabetes, care must be taken when looking after women with gestational diabetes.

How do you know if you are at risk of Gestational diabetes?

  • Being overweight
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Polycystic ovaries
  • Having had a previous pregnancy with gestational diabetes
  • Having had a previous baby who weighed above 10lbs (approx. 4.5kg)
  • Certain ethnic origins – such as Black African, Black Caribbean, South Asia

Gestational diabetes sometimes is inevitable; however there are certain things that can be done to reduce the risks and complications due to the risks. The first thing to do is to ensure you have a good glucose control before you fall pregnant. Before trying for a baby, it is advised to have a pre-conception clinic for advice.

Other things to do to reduce the risk of diabetes include

  • Keeping a healthy diet
  • Daily physical activity – aim for about 20-30 minutes of exercise at least 4-5 days a week.
  • If on medication take them to keep your glucose level under control
  • If you’ve experienced gestational diabetes, check your blood sugars regularly

What happens after child birth?

Usually the blood glucose settles once the baby has been born as the hormones settle. Your medications will be altered after birth and in time stopped if required. Your blood glucose should be checked at discharged and after 6 weeks.

It is also recommended to have an annual blood glucose test. If future blood tests show a rise in blood glucose levels, book an appointment to have a discussion on management to avoid future complications.

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