What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes (sometimes referred to as GDM) is a form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy and usually goes away after the baby is born. It is diagnosed when higher than normal blood glucose levels first appear during pregnancy. Between 5% and 8% of pregnant women will develop gestational diabetes and testing for this occurs around the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy.
In pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones that help the baby to grow and develop. These hormones also block the action of the mother’s insulin. This is called insulin resistance. Because of this insulin resistance, the need for insulin in pregnancy is 2 or 3 times higher than normal. If the body is unable to produce this much insulin, gestational diabetes develops.
What does the test involve?
You will be required to fast for 10 – 12 hours prior to taking this test. You will be given a glucose drink and your blood will be taken before and after having the drink. The blood results will confirm if you have gestational diabetes. These tests are usually performed between 26 and 28 weeks, or earlier if the woman is at high risk. You need to allow most of the morning to have this test done, as it takes between 2-3 hours.
Better Health Channel – Gestational_Diabetes
What it means if you have it:
Gestational diabetes is managed by monitoring blood glucose levels, adopting a healthy eating pattern plan and participating in regular physical activity. However, for some women with gestational diabetes, insulin injections will be necessary for the rest of the pregnancy (if blood sugar levels are difficult to control). Approximately 10 – 20% of women will need insulin; however, once the baby is born insulin is no longer needed. This is safe for both you and your baby.
While maternal blood glucose levels usually return to normal after birth, there is an increased risk for the mother developing type 2 diabetes in the future. The baby may also be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
National Diabetes Services Scheme – Diabetes Australia – Blood Glucose Monitoring