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Diabetes in Pregnancy

Diabetes in Pregnancy, also sometimes called Gestational diabetes affects women during pregnancy.
During pregnancy some women have higher than normal levels of glucose in their blood and not enough insulin which is responsible for transporting glucose into the cells. As a consequence the amount of glucose in the blood stays at a high level.

Often there are no symptoms at all – the condition is usually picked up during routine screening. Occasionally symptoms can occur however, such as:
•being thirsty
•having a dry mouth
•needing to urinate frequently
•recurrent infections, such as thrush (a yeast infection)
•blurred vision
Risk factors
You are at greater risk if:
•your body mass index (BMI) is 30 or more.
•you have previously had a baby who weighed 4.5kg (10lbs) or more at birth.
•you had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy.
•you have a family history of diabetes.
•your family origins are South Asian (specifically India, Pakistan or Bangladesh), black Caribbean or Middle Eastern (specifically Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon or Egypt).
Screening & Testing
Every pregnant woman with one or more risk factors should be offered a screening test for gestational diabetes. This will usually take place at the first antenatal appointment (at around weeks 8-12 of your pregnancy).

Gestational diabetes is detected by using an oral glucose tolerance test. A sample of blood is taken, you then drink a glucose drink and two hours later another sample of blood is taken.

If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes a careful diet and exercise is often all that is needed although some women will require medication. If you have gestational diabetes you will have to check your own blood glucose levels and your GP or midwife will discuss this with you.

You should be referred to a dietician, but essentially it is important to eat regularly and have a low sugar, low fat, high fibre diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables. Your GP, midwife, or diabetes team will advise how many calories you should eat a day, and the safest way to cut calories from your diet.

Physical activity can greatly help to lower your blood glucose. Regular exercise is therefore a really good way of combating diabetes. Again, your GP, midwife or diabetes team will be able to let you know the about the safest way to exercise during pregnancy.

Some women require medication and this could include insulin, metformin or glibenclamide. These will be stopped after the birth of your baby. If you do need medication this will be discussed with you in detail.

Monitoring your unborn baby
If you have gestational diabetes you may well be offered extra antenatal appointments to monitor your baby during your pregnancy and it is important that you give birth at a hospital.

The information on this page was provided by NHS Choices http://www.nhs.uk

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