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Diabetes and pregnancy

Did you know that between 3 and 20 per cent of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes, depending on their risk factors?

Gestational diabetes mellitus is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. Your body cannot produce enough insulin to handle the effects of a growing baby and changing hormone levels. Insulin helps your body to control the level of glucose in your blood. If your body cannot produce enough insulin, your blood glucose levels will rise. All pregnant women should be screened for gestational diabetes within 28 weeks of pregnancy.

The good news is that your baby will not be born with diabetes, and gestational diabetes can be managed and you can expect to have a happy, healthy baby. However, if left undiagnosed or untreated, gestational diabetes can lead to high blood glucose levels. This increases the risk that your baby will weigh more than 4 kg and will have a difficult delivery. Gestational diabetes can also increase the risk of your baby becoming overweight and developing type 2 diabetes in the future.

A diagnosis of gestational diabetes means you will be working closely with your health-care team to manage your blood glucose (sugar) levels and keep them in the target range. This will help you avoid complications in labour and delivery. After your baby is born, blood glucose (sugar) levels will usually return to normal. However, you are at greater risk for gestational diabetes in your next pregnancy and of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.

Your health-care team can answer your questions and support you through this important time in your life. Your team may include your doctor, nurse and dietitian, but remember: the most important member of your health-care team is you!