What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. Normally glucose levels are controlled by a hormone called insulin, but if the body cannot produce enough insulin or is becoming resistant, it can lead to increased levels of glucose.
If left untreated, gestational diabetes can increase the risk of certain birth complications, including babies born larger than their gestational age.
Gestational diabetes can occur anytime during pregnancy but usually develops after 28 weeks and normally resolves itself after the baby is born. However, women with this condition could be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
The symptoms of gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes can be difficult to diagnose as it often does not cause any symptoms. However, high levels of blood glucose (hyperglycaemia) can cause symptoms, including:
- Increase thirst
- Needing to urinate frequently
- Having a dry mouth
- Feeling unusually tired
Treating gestational diabetes
6Carbohydrates are the starches and sugars that are our main source of energy from food, so they can have a significant effect on blood sugar. Choosing wholegrain options increases your fibre intake, so including wholemeal bread and brown rice and pasta can help support your digestion while soluble fibre from oats, barley, potatoes (with the skin on), bananas, apples and carrots can help keep blood sugar under control.
You should avoid sugary food and drink, such as soft drinks, cakes, sweets and ready prepared meals that are often high in sugar and salt. But if you do fancy something sweet, fruit or natural yoghurt are good alternatives. Other good snacks include rice crackers, vegetable sticks or popcorn (plain with no added salt or sugar).
Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet is key, so continue to eat a range of vegetables, along with plenty of fish, eggs, lean meat and nuts, which are good sources of protein.
There is a lot to remember, so please do ask your dietitian or those caring for you if you have any questions or concerns about your pregnancy diet.
Who is at risk?
You may be at increased risk of gestational diabetes if:
- You have had gestational diabetes before
- One of your parents or siblings has diabetes
- You have previously given birth to a baby who weighed 4.5kg (10Ibs) or more
- Your BMI score is 30 or more
- Your family origins are black Caribbean, South Asian (Bangladesh, India or Pakistan), or Middle Eastern (Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, or UAE)
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