Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes (GDM) is a type of diabetes that arises during pregnancy (usually in the second or third trimester).

GDM occurs because the body cannot produce enough insulin to meet the extra needs of pregnancy.

Approximately 3% of women develop diabetes during their pregnancy.

A test called an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) is used to diagnose GDM. This includes a blood test following an overnight fast then again two hours after a glucose drink.

Pregnant women who have certain risk factors including:

  • Obesity

  • Family history of diabetes

  • Unexplained stillbirth or neonatal death in a previous pregnancy

  • Large infant in a previous pregnancy (4.5kgs)

  • If you have had GDM before

  • Your family origin is South Asian, Black Caribbean or Middle Eastern.

Treating Gestational Diabetes

As with women with pre existing diabetes, it is important to control the level of glucose in your blood during pregnancy. The targets again are set very tight to ensure a healthy delivery and baby. NICE recommends fasting or pre meal blood glucose levels of 3.9 -5.9mmol/l and less than 7.8mmo/l one hour after eating.

Often blood glucose levels can be controlled by diet. You will be referred to a dietitian to advise you about healthy eating. If your blood glucose levels cannot be controlled by diet then you may need tablets or insulin injections to keep your blood glucose within the target range.

After the birth

As soon as you have delivered your baby, you will be able to stop any treatment you were commended on during your pregnancy for your diabetes.

GDM usually goes away after your baby is born. You will be offered a further OGTT at approximately six weeks after your baby is born to confirm this. You will be seen by the diabetes obstetric team prior to discharge back to your usual GP care.

In the future

If you have had GDM, you are more than likely to develop in any previous pregnancies, and women with GDM have an increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes in the future.

To help guard against this eat an healthy diet and include some physical activity in your day, aiming for at least 30 minutes of increased activity every day that leaves you slightly out of breath.

It is recommended that you have an annual check for diabetes by your GP to monitor for signs of the diabetes

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