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What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is diabetes that develops during pregnancy. It’s usually diagnosed from a blood test 24 to 28 weeks into pregnancy.

In the UK, approximately 16 out of every 100 women will develop gestational diabetes.

Women with gestational diabetes don’t have diabetes before their pregnancy – and it usually goes away after giving birth.

But, in some women, diabetes may be diagnosed in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy –which is called the first trimester. If this is the case, they probably had diabetes before they got pregnant – and it won’t go away after giving birth.

What causes gestational diabetes?

Lots of changes happen to your body during pregnancy. Amongst the many changes is an adaptation of how insulin works. Remember insulin is also a growth hormone and in many ways pregnancy is all about growth!

Along with the physical signs, the hormones you produce can make it hard for your body to use insulin as it normally does. This puts you at an increased risk of insulin resistance, and some women can’t produce enough insulin to overcome it.

This makes it difficult to use glucose (sugar) properly for energy, so it stays in your blood and the sugar levels rise. This then leads to gestational diabetes.

Who's at risk of gestational diabetes?

Any woman can develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy, but you’re at an increased risk if:

  • You have a diet high in sugar, carbs and processed foods
  • Your body mass index (BMI) is above 30
  • You previously had a baby who weighed 4.5kg (10lb) or more at birth
  • You had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
  • 1 of your parents or siblings has type1 diabetes
  • You are of south Asian, Black, African-Caribbean or Middle Eastern origin (even if you were born in the UK)
  • You don’t get sufficient sleep

If you have any questions about gestational diabetes or want some advice on how to manage it, click here to book a free consultation with Graham Phillips, a NHS professional and founder of ProLongevity, who can guide you down the right path.