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Diabetes in pregnancy

Gestational Diabetes (GDM) is defined as an elevated blood glucose or sugar level first recognized during pregnancy.

Pregnancy hormones that are released from the placenta during the second trimester may interfere with the body’s ability to control blood sugar. Insulin is the hormone that regulates blood sugar control. In gestational diabetes, the placenta hormones interfere with the insulin’s ability to provide adequate blood sugar control. Once the baby and placenta have been delivered, blood sugar levels usually returns to normal.

Women may not recognize the symptoms of high blood sugar levels. Thirst, urinary frequency, and fatigue are common symptoms of diabetes. These symptoms are common for all women in pregnancy, regardless of whether their blood sugar levels are too high or not. It is important to have this test done between weeks 24 and 28 of the pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes class

Once the diagnosis of gestational diabetes has been confirmed you will be referred to attend a gestational diabetes class.

Topics to be discussed in the class include:

  1. Identifying carbohydrate foods
  2. How to incorporate the correct amounts of carbohydrates into a meal plan
  3. How to use a glucose meter
  4. Why it is important to check your blood sugars daily

A Registered Nurse or Registered Dietitian will provide you with a glucose meter and give you instructions on how to monitor your diet. Changing what and how you eat can lower your blood sugar levels. Once you have attended an information class, a follow-up visit will arranged for you to continue to be followed by an Endocrinologist (diabetes doctor) in the diabetes in pregnancy clinic for the duration of the pregnancy.

Diabetes & delivery

To prevent low blood sugar reactions in the baby at delivery, childhood obesity, and the future development of Type 2 diabetes in the mother, women with GDM are encouraged to breastfeed immediately after delivery, and for at least 3 months postpartum. It is also very important to have a 75-gram oral glucose tolerance test done 4 months after the baby is born, to confirm the mother’s blood sugar levels have returned to normal.

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