Are you concerned about your blood sugar levels? All pregnant women have their blood sugar tested several times at the maternity clinic.
This is done about five times during the 40 weeks of gestation. The test is performed on a blood sample from the finger. Your metabolism changes during pregnancy, which can cause an unhealthy rise in blood sugar. You have an increased need for insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar.
Some women may be advised to make lifestyle changes to control their blood sugar, while others may be prescribed insulin injections.
Glucose load test for diabetes
If routine blood tests show high values, a glucose load test is performed. You will be given a sugar solution to drink on an empty stomach. About two hours later, your blood sugar level is tested. The limit value for gestational diabetes is a fasting plasma glucose level of 7.0 mmol/L or above. The test is performed on two separate occasions at the obstetrics department in the maternity clinic.
Lifestyle changes or extra insulin
If the patient tests positive for gestational diabetes with moderately high blood sugar levels, it may be enough to make lifestyle changes such as eating less sugar and fat and exercising more. But some women may also need to be treated with insulin injections.
Women with gestational diabetes are normally referred to a specialist maternity clinic for regular testing.
If left untreated, gestational diabetes can harm both the mother and baby. It increases the risk of complications during both pregnancy and labour. The baby will also usually be larger, with a birth weight of over 4.5 kg at full term.
What are the symptoms of gestational diabetes?
In many cases, gestational diabetes causes no symptoms. This is why all pregnant women are tested regularly.
If the blood sugar level gets really high, the symptoms are the same as for other types of diabetes:
• feeling tired
• feeling thirsty
• frequent urge to urinate
Who is at risk of gestational diabetes?
The following factors can increase the risk of gestational diabetes:
• if you have previously had gestational diabetes
• if you have previously had a child with a high birth weight (4.5 kg)
• if your Body Mass Index (BMI) is 30 or higher
• have parents or siblings with diabetes
After the baby is born
Most women's blood sugar levels return to normal after giving birth. However, some develop permanent type 2 diabetes.
The baby's blood sugar level is also tested during the first 24 hours after delivery.
Women who have had gestational diabetes are likely to remain sensitive to sugar. They should pay extra attention to their diet, try to maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly.
High blood sugar levels can return with subsequent pregnancies.
If you had diabetes before getting pregnant
Women already diagnosed with diabetes attend regular medical check-ups throughout the pregnancy. The body's insulin requirement changes and the dose is adapted accordingly.
The baby's growth and development are also closely monitored with extra ultrasound scans.