What Happens if You Have Gestational Diabetes?

What is it?

Gestational diabetes is a condition where a person who doesn’t have pre-existing diabetes develops diabetes in pregnancy.

 

What causes it?

Our bodies require insulin to break down the glucose from food into energy. During pregnancy, hormones from the placenta can block the normal release of insulin (this is called insulin resistance), resulting in higher blood glucose levels.

 

Symptoms

Usually symptom-free.

 

How is it diagnosed?

All pregnant people are offered routine testing for gestational diabetes.

Between 24-28 weeks of pregnancy, you will be offered an oral glucose challenge test which requires you to drink a sugary drink before having a blood test taken one hour later. This measures how your body processes glucose (sugar). If you get a high result from this test, a second test called a glucose tolerance test will be offered to diagnose gestational diabetes.

 

Treatment

Once diagnosed, the form of treatment will depend on the severity of your condition. The aim is to keep your glucose levels at a healthy level.

Some pregnant people are able to manage gestational diabetes with a healthy meal plan and exercise, while others require medication.

Gestational diabetes typically goes away after your baby is born.

 

What does this mean for my pregnancy?

You will be considered ‘high-risk’ and require extra monitoring.

With gestational diabetes there is the increased chance you may:

  • Develop pre-eclampsia.
  • Develop a condition called polyhydramnios, where too much amniotic fluid is produced.
  • Have a C-section birth if your baby grows too big.
  • Be induced for your labour.

If your blood glucose levels are kept within a normal range, you are more likely to have an uncomplicated pregnancy, labour, and birth.

If you are under the care of a lead maternity carer midwife and need to be referred to specialist care for any pregnancy condition this will be free. In most circumstances, your midwife will continue to be your lead maternity carer, but occasionally a full transfer of care is necessary. A discussion between your midwife and your specialist will take place before this happens.

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