gestational diabetes What is Gestational Diabetes ? Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment
What is Gestational Diabetes? Gestational Diabetes Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar that develops during pregnancy and usually disappears after giving birth.
It can occur at any stage of pregnancy, but is more common in the second half.
It occurs if your body cannot produce enough insulin – a hormone that helps control blood sugar levels – to meet the extra needs in pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes can cause problems for you and your baby during and after birth. But the risk of these problems happening can be reduced if it’s detected and well managed.
During your first antenatal appointment at around weeks 8 to 12 of your pregnancy, your midwife or doctor will ask you some questions to determine whether you’re at an increased risk of gestational diabetes.
If you have one or more risk factors for gestational diabetes – see Who’s at risk, above – you should be offered a screening test.
The screening test used is called an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), which takes about two hours.
It involves having a blood test taken in the morning when you’ve had nothing to eat or drink overnight (you can usually drink water, but check with the hospital if you’re unsure). You’re then given a glucose drink.
After resting for two hours, another blood sample is taken to see how your body is dealing with the glucose.
The OGTT is done when you’re between 24 and 28 weeks pregnant. If you’ve had gestational diabetes before, you’ll be offered an OGTT earlier in pregnancy soon after your booking visit, and another OGTT at 24 to 28 weeks if the first test is normal.
Alternatively, it may be suggested that you start testing your blood sugar yourself using a finger-pricking device in the same way as you did during your previous episode of gestational diabetes.
Treatments for gestational diabetes
In women with gestational diabetes, the chances of having problems with the pregnancy can be reduced by controlling blood sugar levels.
You’ll be given a blood sugar testing kit so you can monitor the effects of treatment.
Blood sugar levels can be reduced by changes in diet and exercise. But the majority of women will need medication as well if changes in diet and exercise don’t reduce blood sugar enough. This may be tablets or insulin injections.
You’ll also be more closely monitored during your pregnancy and birth to check for any potential problems.
If you have gestational diabetes, it’s best to give birth before 41 weeks. Induction of labour or a caesarean section may be recommended if labour doesn’t start naturally by this time.
Earlier delivery may be recommended if there are concerns about your or your baby’s health or if your blood sugar levels haven’t been well controlled.