Gestational Diabetes

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy and, in most cases, goes away once your baby is born. It usually develops in the second half of pregnancy. 

As with all types of diabetes, gestational diabetes is diagnosed when your blood glucose levels, or blood sugars, are higher than normal.  When you eat food containing carbohydrates, it is broken down in the stomach and digestive system into glucose. This glucose then moves into the bloodstream and into your body’s cells where it can be used for energy.  In order for the glucose to pass into the cells they need the help of a hormone called insulin, which is produced in a gland called the pancreas. Insulin acts as a key to unlock cells, letting glucose in and which can then be used for energy.

If your blood glucose levels are high this may be a sign that your body isn’t producing enough insulin to meet the extra needs of your pregnancy or that the insulin that is produced isn’t doing its job properly. This can mean that you have gestational diabetes. The body functions best when blood glucose is kept within the normal range. In order to have the safest and healthiest outcome for both you and your baby, you need to keep your blood glucose in the target range recommended by your diabetes care team.

Living with gestational diabetes

Managing your gestational diabetes is a team effort! It involves you, your family, diabetes specialist doctors, nurses and midwives, an obstetrician and a dietician. Following a healthy diet and taking some regular moderate physical activity can be enough to control gestational diabetes, without the need for medication. And the encouraging thing is that even small changes can make a difference. Some women, however, will need to take diabetes tablets or inject insulin. Your specific treatment will depend on your condition. It is important to remember that everyone is different.

If you have gestational diabetes the level of support you receive from your diabetes care team during your pregnancy will be much higher than for a woman without gestational diabetes. You will attend clinic more often and have extra scans. Regular telephone support in between visits will be available from your diabetes care team to help you control your blood glucose levels.

What happens if I become pregnant again?

Once you’ve had gestational diabetes you are more likely to develop it again in future pregnancies. Before you stop contraception, and try for another baby it is important to have your blood glucose tested at your family doctor’s. This will ensure you don’t have type 2 diabetes. As with every woman who is trying for a baby, it is important to take a folic acid supplement before you conceive to help prevent neural tube defects such as Spina Bifida. As you have a history of gestational diabetes, it is recommended for future pregnancies that you take a higher dose of folic acid than other women, which your doctor will prescribe for you.
Following a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity and keeping your weight at a healthy level and if needed, losing weight will also ensure your baby gets off to the best possible start. It’s no secret that smoking and drinking can harm unborn babies, so wanting to protect your baby is as good a reason to give up as there could be.

If you think you are pregnant make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible so that you can be referred to your diabetes care team. You will be closely monitored throughout your pregnancy for signs of gestational diabetes.  You may be offered the opportunity to self-monitor your glucose levels or alternatively have an oral glucose tolerance test at around 16 weeks gestation.

Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes gives you the chance to change your lifestyle to help prevent type 2 diabetes in the future.

Is this Website Suitable for Women with Gestestational Diabetes?

This website does not cover specific information for women with Gestational Diabetes.
If you had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy, it is important for you to plan for your next pregnancy. Whilst some of the information will be relevant, we recommend contacting your GP or pre-pregnancy care clinic for advice specifically tailored for you.

For more information on gestational diabetes, please visit this link..

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