Gestational Diabetes

What is it?

Quite simply put – Gestational Diabetes is the bodies inability to break down carbohydrates/glucose. During pregnancy the body can become resistant to the hormone Insulin, which is used to metabolise glucose, resulting in high blood sugar levels. It occurs in pregnancy and usually resolves once baby is delivered.

Why is it important to know if I have high glucose levels in my pregnancy?

For Mum: Prolonged periods of high blood glucose levels during pregnancy can lead to Hypertension/ pre-eclampsia, increasing the risk of premature labour, caesarean section and if undiagnosed, miscarriage.

For Baby: It can lead to macrosomia / large birth weight babies, increasing the risk of shoulder dystocia, and difficulty in giving birth, requiring medical intervention. It may also lead to hypoglycaemia post-delivery. During pregnancy the baby will have been producing higher levels of insulin as a result of high levels of glucose in its blood stream. Prompt feeding and sometimes intravenous glucose is required to treat this. If left untreated, this can lead to a reduction in brain development.

Factors which increase your risk of developing Gestational Diabetes.

There are several factors which can increase your risk of developing Gestation Diabetes, these include race, ethnicity, age, BMI and family history. Having a previous baby with a birth weigh over 4.5Kg can also increase your risk.

Will I have symptoms if I have Gestational Diabetes?

Not all women have symptoms of Gestational Diabetes, however it can lead to muscle fatigue, tiredness, blurred vision, weight-loss, urinary infections, increased thirst and/or nausea and vomiting.

How do they diagnose Gestational Diabetes?

Between week 24 – 28 of your pregnancy you will be offered a Oral Glucose Tolerance test. This test takes approx. 2hr hours and involves you fasting in the morning, a blood test been taken prior to you drinking a sugary drink. Two hours post drink you will have another blood test. To find out more about OGTT test –

What happens if I am diagnosed with Gestation Diabetes?

There are 3 main treatment approaches to treating GD

  1. Diet – making changes with your diet to lower the amount of carbohydrates and sugars you consume.
  2. Exercise – exercise has been shown to help lower blood glucose. 150 minutes of moderate exercise is recommended for women in their pregnancy. Working out at a perceived level of 6 -7 /10 intensity.
  3. Medication – either metformin (tablet) or insulin (injection), this is only introduced if blood sugar levels are very high or if the above two treatment approaches have not worked.

What can I do to help prevent or lower my risk of developing GD before or during my pregnancy?

Prior to pregnancy eating a well-balanced diet and lowering your BMI to normal range will have the biggest impact on helping to prevent your risk of developing GD. While pregnant, diet and exercise also need to be monitored. Healthy foods such as some fruits can contain high levels of natural sugars, over eating or eating for two will also drive up your blood glucose levels. As a rule, pregnant mums only require an additional 200kcal per day in the last few weeks of pregnancy.

Here is a link to the Babycenter with a great article on eating healthy during your pregnancy –

If you are unsure how to exercise safely in your pregnancy, please don’t hesitate to get in touch, have a look at classes available at Guiding you safely through exercise and your pregnancy.

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