“I felt like a fat bastard”… A dear friend told me this after being recently diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. So, what is Gestational Diabetes and why did it make her feel this way?

What is Gestational Diabetes?

A type of diabetes that occurs to woman during pregnancy. Between 2 and 10 percent of expectant mothers develop this condition, making it one of the most common health problems of pregnancy.

Diabetes is complicated, but in a nutshell it means you have abnormally high levels of sugar in your blood.

How does it occur?

The body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose which then enters the bloodstream. Insulin is needed to allow glucose from the bloodstream to enter the body cells so that it can be used for energy. Insulin is made by the pancreas.

Some pregnancy hormones reduce the action of insulin, therefore the body needs to produce extra insulin to keep blood glucose levels in the target range. If the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin, blood glucose levels rise causing gestational diabetes to develop.

How is gestational diabetes diagnosed?

All pregnant Mumma’s should be screened for gestational diabetes at 24 – 28 weeks
(except for those diagnosed with type 1 or 2 before pregnancy). Mums-to-be who have
risk factors for gestational diabetes may be screened earlier in their pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes is diagnosed using an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) at a
pathology lab.

How does the oral glucose test work?

– You will need to fast overnight before having this test.
– Blood will be taken to check fasting blood glucose level.
– You will be given a glucose (sugary) drink.
– Your blood will be tested one and two hours later.
– You will need to sit and wait between tests. (Take some books or magazines to fulfil your time!)

You will be diagnosed with gestational diabetes if your blood glucose level is above the normal range at your fasting, one or two hour test.

What to do after being diagnosed:

Firstly, it is important to keep in mind that the majority of women with gestational diabetes have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Though, if not managed well or looked after it may result in further problems.

How to manage gestational diabetes:

– Have a healthy eating plan.

Read: Birth Beat’s Quick Reference Guide to Food & Nurtition During Pregnancy.

– Engage in regular physical activity.

Read: Birth Beat’s Guide to Staying Fit and Active During Pregnancy.

– Monitor and maintain blood glucose levels.

Your health care professional will discuss your recommended target levels and testing times with you.

– Medications

Some woman may also need medication and/ or insulin injections to help manage gestational diabetes. Please don’t stress about this, your health care professional will discuss this with you if necessary. And, it is safe for you and baby!

Who can help manage gestational diabetes?

There are many people who can help you manage gestation diabetes. This involves you, your family, friends and health professionals.

Health professionals who can help include:

– GP
– Obstetrician
– Midwife
– Endocrinologist (diabetes specialist)
– Credentialed diabetes educator
– Diabetes nurse practitioner
– Dietitian
– Exercise physiologist or physiotherapist

Why is it important to manage gestational diabetes?

If your blood glucose levels are high, glucose passes across the placenta to baby, who then makes extra insulin. This can cause your baby to grow too big which then can lead to problems during labour, as well as an increased risk of early delivery or the need for a C-section.

After birth, your baby may have a greater risk of low blood glucose levels – known as hypoglycaemia or hypo. This is because your baby is no longer receiving extra glucose from Mumma, but they continue to make extra insulin which causes their blood glucose levels to drop.

Mums-to-be with gestational diabetes also have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure during pregnancy.

For more information, download our Gestational Diabetes Fact Sheet:

Download Birth Beat Gestational Diabetes Fact Sheet Here.

Let’s talk about how it makes women feel…

Wow… Like your changes in body shape are not already enough to be dealing with! It’s got me thinking about the way pregnancy and gestational diabetes makes woman FEEL.

Some of us glow and love our swelling bodies, some of us dread the swell of our baby bumps and feel “like a fat bastard”.

So, when you see a sister walking along, whether her bump is small and compact or if her tummy is big and beautiful. Smile at her and tell her she looks MARVELLOUS.

The important thing to take away from this blog is to remember that this is an interim state for you and your body. You are growing a person remember. A super human effort if you ask me!

And yes, you also look marvellous!

Big Love, Edwina