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Effects of gestational diabetes

After being diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you'll want to know how this can affect your growing baby, and what is means for your health now, and in the future.

Gestational diabetes is a particular type of diabetes that only happens during pregnancy and affects around 4% of mums-to-be.

The body becomes more resistant to insulin because of hormone changes due to being pregnant.

This can allow blood sugar (glucose) levels to become too high, which can affect the health of a woman and her growing baby.

How will gestational diabetes affect my baby?

If the gestational diabetes is diagnosed early and is well managed, usually through a combination of diet, exercise and/or medication, you can have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Gestational diabetes increases the chance that you will have a baby who is larger than normal. In some cases, a C-section will be recommended.

Soon after giving birth, doctors will check your newborn's blood sugar level. If it's low, they may need to have glucose through an IV until it comes back up to normal.

It's also linked to jaundice, when the skin looks yellowish. Jaundice fades quickly with treatment.

Although your child will be more likely than other children to develop type 2 diabetes later on, a healthy lifestyle can reduce that risk.

Will I get type 2 diabetes?

For most women, after giving birth, the diabetes goes away. However, having had gestational diabetes does increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

However, this won't definitely happen, and you can take action to help prevent it.

Your blood sugar levels will usually return to normal about 6 weeks after giving birth.

Checks will be arranged as part of postnatal care.

Your GP will know about your type 2 diabetes risk, and may arrange more check-ups and tests in the months and years ahead.

To lower your risk of type 2 diabetes after having gestational diabetes:

  • Try to keep your weight within a healthy range.
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet that's rich in vegetables, wholegrains and fruit, and lower in the unhealthy fats, salt and sugar.
  • Make exercise a habit, as this helps keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range.

If you plan to have another baby, you are more likely to develop gestational diabetes again. However, keeping to a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet and taking exercise can help reduce this risk.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on September 22, 2017

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