Characterised by high blood sugar levles, gestational diabetes can be serious and should not be overlooked. Know the symptoms
Gestational diabetes is diagnosed when there are high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. The body’s need for insulin, the hormone that controls the level of sugar in the blood, increases and sometimes there is not the reserve to make the extra required to balance the levels. This is when diabetes develops.
Symptoms include extreme thirst, frequent urination and fatigue. If you experience these symptoms, contact your health professional. For many women the first they know of gestational diabetes is sugar in the urine, detected via a routine urine test.
Your baby’s health
Undetected, gestational diabetes can affect your baby’s health by causing low blood sugar level, a larger than average size, higher risk of abnormalities and, at worst, stillbirth.
Your health can be affected by high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia. You could also experience fainting due to low blood sugar levels.
It is important to attend all your antenatal check-ups. Should you be diagnosed as having gestational diabetes, adjustments in diet and exercise will be advised and, if necessary, insulin injections may be given. You may be advised to have more scans to closely monitor your baby’s development.
If your condition has been controlled during pregnancy, it should not affect labour. And if there are doubts about you or your baby’s welfare, you may be induced at 38 weeks.
If your baby is considered large, you may be advised to have a caesarean birth.
After the birth, your baby’s blood sugar levels will be checked by a heel prick test. You will also be encouraged to feed your baby immediately if blood sugar levels are low.
Your own blood sugar levels should return to normal and you will be tested at six weeks you. You are likely to develop diabetes again and may suffer from it later in life, so it is important you are tested regularly.
You are more likely to develop gestational diabetes if you:
- are over 35
- have a family history of diabetes
- are overweight
- have previously had a very large baby
- have had a previous unexplained stillbirth
- are Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, Pacific Islander or Chinese
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