Gestational diabetes in pregnancy
Gestational diabetes can develop at any stage of pregnancy but most commonly in the second or third trimester of pregnancy. If left undiagnosed and untreated, it can cause problems including affecting your baby's growth, pre-eclampsia, and premature birth.
The condition is more likely to affect women with a BMI of 30 or over, those who have previously had bigger babies (weighing 10lbs or more), or had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy. Mums-to-be who have a family history of diabetes and mums with family who are of black Caribbean, black African, South Asian or Middle Eastern origin are also more likely to be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
What causes some women to develop diabetes in pregnancy?
When you are pregnant the body produces high levels of hormones and some of these hormones stop insulin working as well as it normally does. Usually the body responds to this by increasing the amount of insulin it produces. However some women do not produce enough extra insulin, resulting in gestational diabetes which means there is too much glucose in your blood.
Symptoms of gestational diabetes
Often, gestational diabetes doesn't have any noticeable symptoms, and will only come to light during routine screening, however, constantly feeling thirsty, needed to wee often, having a dry mouth, tiredness, blurred vision and frequent outbreaks of infections like thrush can all be signs.
Women are offered a test called the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) for gestational diabetes between 24 weeks and 28 weeks of pregnancy, however, it might be picked up before this via your regular urine checks at your ante-natal appointments.
Treatments for diabetes in pregnancy
If you are found to have gestational diabetes, your doctor will decide if it can be kept under control just with diet and exercise, or if your need to take drugs to sort it out. They will also advise you on keeping check on your blood glucose levels, and the readings you should be aiming for.
Gestational diabetes usually disappears once the baby is born, although women who have had it are more likely to get type 2 diabetes later in life.
The Diabetic Association can offer advice and support to women who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes.