Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that can affect about 15% of pregnant women usually around 24 to 28 weeks. In most cases, the blood glucose level will go back to normal after the baby is born. However, some women will continue to have high blood glucose level which will lead them to have type 2 diabetes.
How is gestational diabetes diagnosed?
All women are screened for gestational diabetes at 24 to 28 weeks. Some women with higher risk or those who were diagnosed in their previous pregnancy may be tested earlier.
The Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) is the diagnostic test used to screen for gestational diabetes. You will need to remain at the pathology lab for approximately 2-5 hours. It requires fasting overnight or for 10 hours prior to the test. Blood will be collected at appropriate intervals followed by a sweet glucose drink.
How is gestational diabetes managed?
Healthy low-fat/sugar and regular physical activity such as walking or swimming can help keep blood glucose levels at a normal range. Doctor might refer you to a dieticians or diabetes educators and you may need to monitor your glucose level using a monitoring device.
Healthy diet for women with gestational diabetes includes;
- Spreading carbohydrate intake over 3 small meals and 2-3 snacks
- Choose high fibre and low GI carbohydrates
- Eat a variety of safe and nutritious foods
- Avoid food and drinks that contain high sugar
- Limit saturated fats
After the pregnancy
Baby born to a mother with gestational diabetes will be monitored after the birth for their blood glucose levels may be too low.
Gestational diabetes usually goes away after pregnancy is over, but another glucose tolerance test will be performed 6-12 weeks after baby is born. It is advised to have regular tests for type 2 diabetes every year if planning another pregnancy.
To reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, it is important to;
- Keep being in a healthy weight range
- Eat healthily
- Be physically active
- Regularly check blood glucose levels