Understanding Gestational Diabetes

LAST MODIFIED: Thursday, April 25, 2019
Pregnant woman having blood pressure taken

Roughly 2 – 10% of expectant mothers suffer from gestational diabetes. Just like a true diabetic, your blood sugar level soars.

Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make your body less responsive to the insulin that usually regulates your blood sugar level.

Fortunately, after the birth of your baby, there is a good chance that you will no longer be diabetic.


Understanding Gestational Diabetes


You simply won’t know that you’re developing this condition That’s why it’s essential that you go for your glucose screening tests at 24 and 28 weeks. However, if you’re a high-risk case, you should go for screening much earlier.


Risk factors:

  • Obesity
  • A history of gestational diabetes
  • A history of diabetes in your family

Other reasons your obstetrician may send you for early testing:

  • Previous birth of a big baby
  • Unexplained stillbirth or birth defects
  • High blood pressure
  • An age of over 35

This said, any woman can develop gestational diabetes, even when she is in excellent health.


What are the implications of gestational diabetes?

Once you have been diagnosed as suffering from gestational diabetes, you will have to watch your diet and you may have to control your blood sugar with medication. If this is not done, your baby is exposed to too much sugar and may grow too big to be delivered naturally. If an overly large baby is delivered naturally, it will be a difficult birth and may result in injuries to the baby and the mother.

There’s also an increased risk of your child remaining overweight later on as well as hypoglycaemia at birth that may result in a baby having to be put on a drip. The risk of respiration problems and jaundice are also higher. In some cases, the heart is affected.


What can be done about gestational diabetes?

See a dietician and get a meal plan that will keep your blood sugar level under control. Stick to your diet. Exercise is also beneficial. Ask your doctor what exercises you can do safely. If you’re still not able to control your blood sugar level, you will be put on medication. Your baby might need additional monitoring too.


How do I know if I am still diabetic after the birth?

You will have to go for a test six to twelve weeks after the birth has taken place. About one third of women affected with gestational diabetes continue to be diabetic after the birth of their child.