Did you know that diabetes can affect your pregnancy and your baby’s health? It’s called gestational diabetes mellitus (or GDM) and it’s quite common. According to Dr Daniel Roshan, director of ROSH Maternal-Fetal Medicine, it’s a condition where a pregnant woman who didn’t have diabetes pre-pregnancy suddenly develops the disease.
Gestational diabetes happens on average in three to five percent of pregnancies and risk factors include obesity and family history. Dr Roshan says it’s caused when the pregnancy hormones increase the body’s resistance to insulin. “A woman needs more insulin production during pregnancy to overcome that. Unfortunately, pregnant patients who are unable to produce more insulin become diabetic,” he says.
Gestational diabetes signs include…
- Unusual thirst.
- Frequent urination in large amounts.
- Chronic fatigue, but not the usual pregnancy fatigue.
- More amniotic fluid could develop around the baby. This is called polyhydramnios.
- Macrosomia means “large body” and this is when the baby grows too large in the uterus. Macrosomnia could lead to shoulder dystocia – when a baby’s head passes through the birth canal and their shoulders become stuck during delivery, often leading to nerve damage and paralysis for the baby.
- After delivery, a baby could show signs of low glucose due to higher insulin level, and they could develop jaundice.
How do I get tested?
All pregnant patients are screened for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks. The patient drinks a 50g glucose drink and the glucose levels are tested an hour after consumption. The glucose value should be 135 or below; if it’s above 135, you’ll need to go for a three-hour glucose test that requires fasting blood glucose. After drinking the 100g glucose drink, blood is drawn a couple of hours after the drink is consumed.
Am I at risk of type-2 diabetes later in life?
Women with gestational diabetes have a higher risk of developing diabetes later in life. You should be tested six weeks after delivery with a 75g glucose drink (the Glucose Tolerance Test). This measures how well your body’s cells are able to absorb glucose after a specific amount of sugar is consumed.
Keeping an ideal body weight prior to the pregnancy and avoiding excessive weight gain during pregnancy can help. It’s also good to exercise to keep in shape.