Pregnancy comes with several changes to a woman’s body system. In Australia, gestational diabetes is on the rise and affects thousands of pregnant women. It is said that 12-14% of pregnant women will develop diabetes in pregnancy, usually around the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy.
What it is
Diabetes in pregnancy, otherwise known as gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is defined as glucose intolerance of variable degree with onset or first recognition during pregnancy. In other words, gestational diabetes is a condition wherein your blood sugar levels become high and are diagnosed during pregnancy.
There are two classes of gestational diabetes. Class A1 can be managed by diet and exercise. However, women with class A2 will need insulin and other medications.
Gestational diabetes usually resolves after the birth of your baby.
Your pancreas, an organ in the body, produces insulin that converts the food you eat to energy. During pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones that cause glucose build-up and help the baby grow and develop. As such, the body needs more insulin.
However, if your body can’t meet that need, the blood sugar levels in the body become and remain high. Then, you have gestational diabetes.
There are risk factors that can predispose you to get gestational diabetes. They include:
- Age ≥40
- Personal history of prediabetes or gestational diabetes
- Family history of type 2 diabetes
- Being overweight or obese
- Race: African-American, Asian, Hispanic or Native American
- Underlying health conditions- High blood pressure, polycystic ovary syndrome, etc.
- Previous delivery of a baby weighing over 4.1kg (9 lbs.)
Women with gestational diabetes do not often have symptoms. Most cases are diagnosed during routine screening. However, they may experience:
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- Increased hunger
Diabetes in pregnancy is managed through lifestyle modifications. Sometimes, medical treatment may be included. The following are essential to managing gestational diabetes:
- Healthy diet
A diet of foods high in fibre and low in calories and fat is advised. Add more of fruits, vegetables and whole grains to your diet.
Keeping active helps to burn calories, maintain a healthy weight and lose excess weight.
Insulin injections and/or metformin may be prescribed by your doctor to control your blood sugar levels.
- Routine check-ups
Your doctor may ask you to check your blood sugar levels four or more times daily. Other routine checks may be done at the clinic to control your diabetes.
You can make an appointment with Dr Kenny on 07 3188 5000.
This article is written to be informative and does not substitute seeking a professional consultation from a medical professional.