What is gestational diabetes?
Most people are aware that there are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes means your body isn’t producing any insulin; and Type 2 diabetes, which is when your body doesn’t make enough insulin or the insulin it makes doesn’t work properly.
But a third type of diabetes can affect women when they’re pregnant, this is called gestational diabetes. According to the NHS, this can happen at any time when you’re pregnant, though it’s more common during the second half of pregnancy. It develops when your body can’t produce enough insulin to meet the extra needs during pregnancy, making your blood sugar levels too high.
Here’s everything you need to know
- Often there aren’t any symptoms of gestational diabetes, which is why it’s important to take the screening test if it’s offered (this involves having a blood test). If, however, your blood sugar levels become too high, you may experience some symptoms, such as feeling thirsty all the time, needing to urinate frequently, feeling tired and having a dry mouth.
- Women with a body mass index of 30 or higher have an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes. Other risk factors include having previously had a high birth-weight baby (4.5kg or more), having a close relative with diabetes or if you’ve had gestational diabetes before.
- If you have gestational diabetes, there is a very low chance of experiencing any problems with the pregnancy if your blood sugar levels are managed well. If changes in your diet and exercise do not help manage your levels, it’s likely you’ll have to take diabetes medication while you’re pregnant.
- You will be closely monitored during your pregnancy and you will be advised to regulaly check your own blood glucose levels to keep on top of your levels.
- While gestational diabetes only lasts as long as you’re pregnant, it means your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in the future has increased. It’s important to have a blood test 6 to 13 weeks after giving birth to check your levels. Iy also means you are more likely to develop it again in any future pregnancies.