Gestational diabetes is diabetes that is first picked up in pregnancy and goes away after a baby is born. In some women, the diabetes may not disappear after birth. Pregnancy brings changes within the mother’s body to ensure the normal growth and development of the baby.
Gestational diabetes occurs when the mother’s body is unable to cope sufficiently with the increased level of hormones from the placenta. These hormones block the action of the mother's insulin. This is called insulin resistance.
During pregnancy a mother’s body needs two to three times more insulin than usual to keep blood glucose levels normal. When a woman develops gestational diabetes, her pancreas is unable to produce the extra insulin needed at this time.
Management of gestational diabetes involves
- Eating a healthy balanced diet
- Physical activity
- Monitoring blood glucose levels
It is essential to see a dietitian who will make sure you are getting the proper nutrients for you and your baby, while helping you to make healthy food choices for the gestational diabetes. Insulin injections are often needed to help bring blood glucose levels into the target range. Find out more about gestational diabetes and healthy eating for gestational diabetes.
- In Australia, three to eight per cent of pregnant women are diagnosed with gestational diabetes
- The most common time to develop this condition is between weeks 24 and 28 of the pregnancy
- All women should be routinely tested for gestational diabetes around the 26th or 28th week of their pregnancy. Sometimes, especially if there is a previous history of gestational diabetes, the test may be done earlier