Gestational Diabetes can be a stressful time for everyone, especially when you're left wondering why you have ended up having to make changes to your diet, exercise and daily routine.
What Is Gestational Diabetes?
Diabetes affects a number of people and if you develop this during pregnancy also known as Gestational Diabetes (GD). As your body is adapting to this crazy life change called “pregnancy”, it will be making a number of changes which will affect the way in which your body produces and uses insulin.
Insulin is a hormone made in your body which helps you use sugar for energy. Your body can be at an increased risk of insulin resistance. Whilst your body is struggling with the production of insulin or using insulin properly for energy, the insulin will then remain in your blood. This then results in your blood sugars increasing, later resulting in you developing gestational diabetes.
Will I Have A Test Carried Out to Confirm My Diagnosis?
When you reach 24-28 weeks pregnant an invite to take part in an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) which is the full screening for diabetes during your pregnancy. If you have experienced GD in a previous pregnancy, you get sent for a test straight after your first antenatal appointment. Many women can be at risk of gestational diabetes and they can often fall into categories as follows;
- BMI over 30,
- Previously suffered with GD,
- Larger babies in previous pregnancies,
- History of diabetes in your family.
If you suffer with gestational diabetes throughout your pregnancy, you increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes later on in life.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes?
If you’re worried you may have GD and are looking for an early diagnosis, you’re in the wrong place. You can’t diagnose yourself, you will need to go to the hospital for the test in order to confirm this. There are however a few signs that you may be at risk of developing diabetes and these mirror the same signs during your pregnancy;
You might experience extreme thirst during your pregnancy that could be a huge indicator that you have gestational diabetes.
🚽Where’s the toilet?:
Women with gestational diabetes will be constantly going back and to to the toilet, even more than usual. This will be mostly in result to you drinking a lot more than usual.
You will experience extreme fatigue and may notice you’re napping a lot more than usual. You have diabetes to thank for that.
👅 Dry Mouth:
You may have a dry mouth which can encourage you to drink more than usual. This can become slightly annoying when all the symptoms link into one and cause one another.
What Should I Do If I Have GD?
If it is confirmed that you have diabetes during your pregnancy, you will be able to seek medical advice from your midwife or doctor and they will advise you on what steps to take now. You can begin your own treatment plan, starting with your diet and exercise, and the number of appointments throughout the pregnancy will increase in which the doctors will recommend other treatments.
We have a few tips and tricks to help handle GD throughout the pregnancy in terms of eating and drinking.
- You should try and stick to drinking water or any sugar-free drinks.
- Reduce your salt intake.
- Avoid eating for two, keep portion control in mind.
- Try and get your 5-a-day.
- Drink plenty.
The number of appointments with your midwife or doctor will increase and this is so they can monitor both you and your baby to be sure everything is progressing nicely. They can see if your baby is growing at the correct rate and intervene if there is anything concerns. They will increase the number of scans you have throughout your pregnancy to check things are going well.
You will be asked to monitor your blood glucose levels during the day using a blood glucose monitor which involves picking your finger with the needle in the machine and ensure a drop of your blood is dissolved by the testing strip. This will measure the levels of glucose in your blood and you will have to track this at certain points of the day;
- When you wake up, and
- Before or After every meal (depending on your healthcare professional, you will be told to do it before each meal or after each meal).
👶🏼 Early Labour:
With gestational diabetes your midwife will advise you to deliver the baby before 41 weeks. If you have not had your little one by this point, you will be offered an induction which is highly favourable to avoid any further complications.
When you’re found to have gestational diabetes, your doctor will probably look into medication which can be prescribed to you throughout the pregnancy. They may choose to prescribe one of the following;
- Metformin: this can help reduce the amount of glucose made by the liver and helps use the insulin produced better.
- Glibenclamide: this can help lower the glucose by encouraging your body to produce more insulin.
You may be introduced to insulin injections if medication is not helping your situation. You will be shown how to administer the insulin and at what times this will need to be done.
How Will GD Affect Me & My Baby?
Gestational diabetes can bring along a number of problems for both you and your unborn baby. Your hospital can help keep these under control and take the relevant actions to help keep both you and your baby healthy.
👶🏻 BIG BABY:
You have increased chances of carrying a larger baby which can lead to intervention needing to be carried out through the delivery. You may end up having to be induced when putting your baby’s health first.
Your baby may require treatment after they have been born due to them developing jaundice. This can end up with your baby having a longer hospital stay and they will require a special care unit to be caring for them.
🌊 Amniotic Fluid:
You could be at a high risk of developing Polyhydramnios. A condition when there is too much amniotic fluid surrounding the baby and this can lead to a number of complications through the delivery of your little one.
⏱️ Early Labour:
Your pregnancy may be cut short and you will end up having a premature birth, meaning your baby may be here before you reach the 37 week mark.