advice

pregnancy problems:
gestational diabetes

Insulin is the clever little hormone that controls your sugar levels. When your body fails to produce enough of it during pregnancy, it's known as gestational diabetes. Fortunately the condition is normally pretty harmless, but here’s what you should know.

symptoms of gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is most common in the second half of pregnancy but it can happen at any time.

The symptoms to look out for are:

  • feeling thirsty more often
  • needing to wee more often
  • having a dry mouth
  • feeling very tired

That being said, a lot of those symptoms are just what to expect when you’re expecting. You could have most of them and be perfectly healthy. Some people have very few symptoms and only find out they have gestational diabetes if they’re screened.

what causes gestational diabetes?

Any pregnant woman can develop gestational diabetes but some are more likely to get it than others. These include women who:

  • are overweight, with a BMI of 30 or greater
  • have a parent or sibling with diabetes
  • come from a South Asian, Chinese, African-Caribbean or Middle Eastern background
  • have had a large baby (over 10lbs) before
  • have had gestational diabetes before

gestational diabetes and pregnancy

Most women who have gestational diabetes have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. However, you are slightly more at risk of the following:

  • a larger baby
  • a premature baby
  • polyhydramnios (an excess of amniotic fluid)
  • pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure)
  • jaundice or low blood sugar in your newborn
  • Some of these can lead to problems, but the chances are slight. There is an increased risk of stillbirth but it’s thought to only affect women over 40 weeks and six days pregnant. If you go past your due date, you’ll probably be offered an induction.

gestational diabetes treatment

It’s best to keep your blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible. You might be offered insulin injections to help do this. Lifestyle changes like eating healthily and exercising regularly can make a huge difference too. Your GP can give you more details, and Tommy’s has lots of advice, including meal ideas. Gestational diabetes goes away once you’ve given birth but you may be more at risk of type two diabetes.