Gestational Diabetes Part 1: Diet and Pregnancy with GDM in mind

PART 1: ALL ABOUT GDM

Gestational diabetes (GDM) is when high blood sugars occur in women who prior to pregnancy were not diabetic, but during pregnancy are not able to produce enough insulin to meet demands or become resistant to it (insulin is the hormone that helps sugar enter our cells from the blood stream).

In the majority of cases the woman’s blood sugars return to normal after birth, but there are other implications that mean that it is very important to try to avoid or manage gestational diabetes.

The risks from having gestational diabetes are:
• Larger baby at birth which increases risks of complications during birth
• Increase risk of a premature birth
• Increase risk of polyhydramnios (too much amniotic fluid) which can cause premature birth or problems at delivery
• Increased risk of preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy)
• After birth the baby can develop low blood sugars and jaundice
• It also increases both Mum and babies risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future

Any woman can suffer from GDM, but there are several factors that put women at a greater risk:
• BMI over 30kg/m2
• Previous baby that weighed 4.5kg (10lbs) or more at birth
• GDM in a previous pregnancy
• Family history of diabetes
• Family origins are south Asian, Chinese, African-Caribbean or Middle Eastern

If you have one or more risk factor for GDM you should be offered a screening test, called an OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test) which takes 2 hours. This usually takes place between weeks 24 and 28 of pregnancy. For others the midwife will usually monitor sugar in your urine and organise an OGTT if they suspect GDM.

If you develop GDM you will be required to monitor your blood sugars at home using a finger pricking device and if you cannot control it through diet and exercise then you will be required to take medication and possibly inject insulin.

So, what can you do about your diet…see PART 2!