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Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that only appears during pregnancy. It usually disappears shortly after giving birth. It can happen at any stage of pregnancy, but is more common in the second or third trimester. 

It happens when your body cannot produce enough insulin – a hormone that helps control blood sugar levels to meet your extra needs in pregnancy. It can cause your baby to grow larger than normal and can increase the possibility of a C-section or having labour induced.

Having gestational diabetes also means you're at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.

If your Doctor has diagnosed you with gestational diabetes you may be feeling worried or anxious, but it is quite common and with early diagnosis and proper management, it can be easily treated.

 

  • There’s only so much you can do to reduce your risk of gestational diabetes – some women will develop it no matter how healthy their lifestyle is.

    There are things you can do to help reduce the risk;

    • Try and stay a healthy weight before pregnancy. If you are overweight, it doesn’t mean you will develop gestational diabetes, but it does increase the risk.
    • Eating a healthy and balanced diet. Eat lots of vegetables and “natural” foods and try to limit processed foods. Speak to your doctor, midwife or health visitor about the best diet for you. *Click here* to find out more information on how to eat well in pregnancy.
    • Staying active. It’s important to get lots of exercise while pregnant. If you can, aim for 30 minutes of physical activity per day. You could try brisk walking, bike riding or swimming. *Click here* to find out more about being active in pregnancy.

    These tips may help most women with preventing gestational diabetes but some people will still struggle to control their blood sugar despite living a healthy lifestyle.

  • If you have been told you have gestational diabetes you are probably feeling a little anxious. But instead of worrying, try and focus on managing it.

    Gestational diabetes is treatable and can be managed with some simple lifestyle changes;

    • Making changes to how you eat. Just by changing our food choices and portion size can make a big difference. Try and eat plenty of vegetables and non processed foods.
    • Testing your blood sugar. In addition to your new diet, you’ll also have to monitor your own blood sugar. You’ll be given a glucose meter to check your glucose levels. Your care team will teach you how to use this.
    • You may be given additional medication or insulin to help control your blood sugar levels alongside your change in diet. If you need insulin, you’ll be given an insulin pen with small, thin needles. One to two times per day, you’ll give yourself a dose of insulin

    Try and stay calm and remind yourself that it is treatable. Your health care team is ready to provide support for you and help you make healthy lifestyle choices that could last a lifetime.

    For more information on gestational diabetes *click here*.

  • Some women can feel worried and anxious when they’re pregnant. Finding out you have gestational diabetes might make these feelings worse.

    If you’re feeling anxious, talk to your care team and ask for support. This support might come from healthcare professionals, voluntary organisations or other services. You can find out more on what local support services are available *here*.

    It may be helpful to find out information and advice about looking after your mental health in pregnancy.

Who Can Help?

If you feel worried and want more advice you can speak to your midwife or family nurse.

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

Other parents who are going through or have been through this before can be a big help. You could join our online forum to speak to other Norfolk Parents below.

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