Gestational diabetes is diabetes that develops, or is first diagnosed, during pregnancy. You can think of it as “insulin resistance” or “carbohydrate intolerance” during pregnancy as a way to understand it better. Basically, it means that a woman cannot tolerate large amounts of carbohydrates without causing her blood sugar levels to rise.
Can gestational diabetes be prevented?
You don’t have to have a history of glucose intolerance or insulin resistance to be at risk of developing gestational diabetes.
Research has shown that adopting healthy practices such as not smoking, regular exercise (150 minutes or more per week) and a healthy diet can reduce the risk of gestational diabetes by 41%.
High blood sugar can cause various complications in the baby such as macrosomia (large baby), which increases the chance of a caesarean due to an increased chance of an obstructed labour. It also causes an increase in shoulder dystocia, which is where the shoulders get stuck during vaginal delivery, with possible nerve damage to the baby.
It can also result in hypoglycaemia (low sugar levels) after delivery and permanent changes to a child’s metabolism.
Most women are fertile two weeks before their period starts. However, breastfeeding can delay the return of periods, making it hard for women to know with any confidence when their ‘fertile window’ may be. This is why some women conceive again before their periods have come back.
An epidural is an anaesthetic procedure, where a local anaesthetic is injected into the epidural space near the spinal cord. An epidural anaesthetic numbs the nerves so pain cannot be felt in certain areas of the body.
An epidural during labour helps to block pain signals from contractions. If birth intervention is needed, e.g., caesarean or forceps, an epidural is a common form of anaesthetic.