GESTATIONAL DIABETES (GDM)

Blood glucose control is key to having a healthy baby

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is defined as any degree of glucose intolerance with onset or first recognition during pregnancy. In other words, gestational diabetes is diabetes detected during pregnancy.

Most women are screened for gestational diabetes at 24-28 weeks gestation period during antenatal care. Sometimes, your doctor may screen you earlier if they have concerns. GDM is caused by hormonal changes associated inherently with actual pregnancy and can affect between 5% and 15%; globally, 1 in 7 women suffer from it.

SYMPTOMS

Patients do not usually notice any symptoms of gestational diabetes because the routine tests performed during pregnancy help identify the condition very early on.

Nevertheless, if it is not detected early, then the patient could notice symptoms associated with increased sugar levels (hyperglycaemia) such as an excessive weight gain by gestational age, thirst and increased urge to urinate.

RISK FACTORS * If you had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
• If you’ve had a baby born weighing over 4kg
• If you are obese or overweight
• If you have a family history of diabetes.
• If you are being treated for HIV.

HOW BAD IS GESTATIONAL DIABETES?

1. It increases your risk of having type2 diabetes
2. You are more likely to have a large baby; this may cause discomfort during the last few months of pregnancy and this may lead to a cesarean section (C-section)
3. Prolonged labour

4. Pre-eclampsia

5. Postpartum haemorrhageCAN GESTATIONAL DIABETES BE PREVENTED?
Yes. Before getting pregnant, talk to your doctor about how to reduce your risk of gestational diabetes before becoming pregnant.

• Be physically active—Get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five days a week.
• Eat a variety of foods that are low in fat and reduce your calorie intake per day.
• Maintain a healthy weight.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU ALREADY HAVE GDM

• Show up at all your prenatal visits.
• Follow your doctor’s recommendations on controlling your blood sugar. This can help reduce your risk of having a large baby.
• Stay physically active.
• Eat healthy food

You can reduce your chances of having gestational diabetes in the future by asking your doctor about type 2 diabetes prevention and care after delivery. You could also ask to see a dietitian or a diabetes educator to learn more about type 2 diabetes prevention.