All women are tested for Gestational Diabetes during pregnancy to ensure this common complication is monitored, treated and kept under control.
Some women are at a higher risk of developing Gestational Diabetes than others, such as women who have had previous complications with this diagnosis in prior pregnancies, over 30's, a family history of the disease, certain cultural backgrounds, in an overweight category, particular ovarian complications and hormonal imbalances. However many women develop this diagnosis and do not fall into any of these above mentioned categories.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational Diabetes usually develops around 24+ weeks and occurs when a women's body is not producing enough insulin to regulate and maintain the blood glucose levels for herself and her growing baby.
Maintaining normal glucose levels are vital in pregnancy and ensure the safety and health of both mother and baby. The placenta produces a range of hormones which provide the baby' ability to grow and develop healthily. Although these hormones are important for the baby, they can sometimes deprive and block the mother's insulation levels. This is called Insulin Resistance, and leads to Gestational Diabetes when the mother is not producing the doubled amounts of insulin required.
Around the 24 week mark, you will be required to do a Glucose Tolerance Test (sometimes referred to as GTT) to determine your levels and make any necessary diagnostics. Some women (those at a higher risk rate) may be required to do this test earlier on in their pregnancy.
Your Doctor will talk you through the process, but it is basically a series of blood collection samples over a period of time (within a few hours). You will be required to fast (which means no food or drink, except plain water) overnight (prior to your GTT appointment) and is usually done at a hospital, pathology centre or blood collection agency. A blood sample is taken on your arrival to test your 'fasting blood glucose' levels, and then you are required to drink a glucose drink (a very sweet tasting 'juice') where more blood samples are taken after periodically waited times (usually after one hour and then again after two hours).
The results are sent to Dr Chong (or your referring Doctor) to be analysed and discussed with you.
If you are diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, Dr Chong along with other specialists will educate, support and assist you in maintaing and treating this diagnosis. If GD is left untreated, major health concerns and issues are more common to occur in both mother and baby during both the pregnancy and the birth. Treatment varies from patient to patient depending on the levels and lifestyle. Sometimes some simple changes in diet and exercise are the answer, and other times injections of insulin are needed. Your Doctor will guide you through all of this.
In most cases, the mother does not have Diabetes once given birth (you will be tested at the hospital and post-birth) and this pregnancy-induced condition does not mean the baby will be born with Diabetes (unless it is left untreated during the gestational period).
If you are not diagnosed with GD, you will continue your pregnancy as is, ensuring you are making healthy choices that positively affect you and your growing baby. Full-term pregnancy rates are more likely in non GD patients.
Preventing Gestational Diabetes:
For some women (as mentioned above) Gestational Diabetes is more likely to occur no matter how healthy, happy or balanced they are. A GD diagnosis is not always a bad reflection of your choices towards poor health, so don't for a second beat yourself up about this manageable condition.
However there are ways to protect yourself from a higher chance of diagnosis, such as:
- healthy, nourishing and mindful eating // read our post here about nutrition during pregnancy
- regular (but safe) exercise
- weight control (before and during) pregnancy
- a healthy lifestyle (sufficient sleep, rest, movement, happy relationships)
If you have any concerns or questions, please talk to Dr Chong at your next appointment.
You may also like:
- Dealing with Aches & Pains During Pregnancy
- Green Smoothies to Drink During Pregnancy
- Sleeping Well During Pregnancy
- Avoiding and Treating Stretch Marks