Diabetes is a condition where the level of glucose (a type of sugar) in the blood is too high. Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy due to changes to the normal hormone levels. Between 3 to 8% of pregnant women will develop gestational diabetes and this usually occurs around the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy. If gestational diabetes is not well looked after it may result in problems for the mother including pre-eclampsia and premature labour. It may also cause issues for the baby such as large birth weight, birth trauma and stillbirth.
While the diabetes usually goes away after a baby is born, there is a known increased risk for type 2 diabetes in the mother in the future. Your child may also be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Who is at risk of gestational diabetes?
Any pregnant woman can develop gestational diabetes, but risk factors that increase a women’s susceptibility include:
Overweight or Obesity
- Family history of type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes
- Increasing maternal age, especially over the age of 30 years of age
- Coming from a non Anglo-Celtic background e.g. Asian, Arabic, Indian, Pacific Islands or Indigenous Australian
- Previous gestational diabetes
- Previously having a large baby
- A twin or triplet pregnancy
- Having Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
So what can you do to reduce your risk?
To effectively reduce the risk of developing gestational diabetes it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle prior to pregnancy. This should include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight or if you are overweight, losing weight to a safe level
- Eating a healthy balanced diet including plenty of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains
- Being physically active on a daily basis