An estimated 2-5% of women suffer from gestational diabetes, and as a result women are screened throughout pregnancy for warning signs of diabetes. Diabetes occurs in pregnancy when the body has higher glucose levels and struggles to produce enough insulin to deal with it. It is very important that gestational diabetes is caught as early as possible so that it can be managed or treated.
Gestational DiabetesGestational diabetes is a worrying condition because it can lead to problems such as the baby having a high birth weight, leading to an increased risk of birth complications and a higher likelihood of the mother needing a caesarean section. Early labour is another risk of gestational diabetes ? high blood sugar can cause early labour, and this comes with a range of risks for the baby including problems breathing and low birth weight. Babies with mothers who had gestational diabetes are at a higher risk of developing diabetes in later life.
The following are signs that you may be suffering from gestational diabetes;
Feeling unusually thirsty or having a dry mouth
Needing to pee more often
Blurred vision or tired eyes
Who is at Risk?
While this condition can affect any pregnant woman, certain people will be at more risk of developing gestational diabetes than others;
Those with a family history of diabetes ? type 1 or type 2.
Those with prediabetes ? a slightly raised blood sugar level can be a precursor for diabetes and makes gestational diabetes more likely.
Women older than 25 ? the risk is slightly higher after the age of 25 years.
Being overweight ? the risk of developing gestational diabetes is higher is overweight women, especially if the BMI (Body Mass Index) is over 30.
Race ? there is evidence to suggest that women from a non-white race are more at risk but experts are unsure why this might be.
How is it Treated?
If possible, gestational diabetes is best treated with controlled diet and exercise. However, sometimes medication is required. If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, your condition should be monitored closely by your doctor or midwife. You may be shown how to check your own blood sugar and have frequent blood tests. This will help to show up any deterioration of the condition so it can be managed well to prevent any complications. With good management and careful monitoring, gestational diabetes can be controlled and the risks minimised ? most women go on to deliver healthy babies.
What about after the Birth?
Gestational diabetes should be resolved after the birth of the baby. However, the risk of developing diabetes is increased so this should be monitored in the future to check for any changes. Future pregnancies will also carry a higher risk of the expectant mother developing gestational diabetes again so monitoring is especially important during pregnancy. Occasionally, gestational diabetes doesn?t resolve after the birth or takes longer to resolve, and this is something that will have to be managed and treated by a doctor.
More information can be found on the HSE website.