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Gestational diabetes may sound terrifying, but take comfort in the fact that it is a common health problem during pregnancy and can be successfully managed.
It occurs when you have too much glucose (sugar) in your blood because your body can't produce enough insulin (the hormone which converts blood sugar into energy) to meet the extra demands of pregnancy - ie incubating a growing baby and the hormones produced to assist this.
Risk factors for gestational diabetes
Already having had a large baby (4.5kg or more)
Previously having had gestational diabetes
Family history of diabetes (a parent, sibling or child with diabetes)
Family origin with a high prevalence of diabetes (South Asian, Middle Eastern or black Caribbean descent)
Feeling excessively thirsty
Weeing a lot
Experiencing blurred vision
If sugar is detected in your urine during a routine antenatal check, you'll probably be sent for an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). For this, you'll need to fast for several hours before having your blood and urine tested for raised sugar levels.
How it's treated
Depending on the levels, your diabetes may be controlled by diet and exercise, or you may need insulin injections.
The good news is that it usually disappears once you've given birth. The bad news is that once you've had gestational diabetes there's an increased risk you'll develop it in subsequent pregnancies and that you'll develop type 2 diabetes later in life.
How gestational diabetes affects your baby
It can lead to your unborn baby piling on the pounds, particularly around the shoulders, chest and abdomen (known as macrosomia). This can make giving birth vaginally difficult - hence very large babies are more likely to be induced and need delivering by caesarean. But not all women with gestational diabetes have large babies.
Your baby may also be born with low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) but this doesn't mean they have diabetes.
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