Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that affects women during pregnancy and it happens when you have too much sugar (glucose) in your blood during pregnancy.
Normally, the amount of glucose in the blood is controlled by a hormone called insulin. However, some women have higher than normal levels of glucose in their blood when they are pregnant and their body can't produce enough insulin to transport it all into the cells (muscles and tissues) of their body. This means that the level of glucose in the blood rises.
Gestational diabetes is diabetes first diagnosed during pregnancy and two to five in every 100 women giving birth in England and Wales has diabetes. Most of these women have gestational diabetes, and some have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
The good news is that gestational diabetes can usually be controlled with exercise and diet. However, some women with gestational diabetes will need medication to control blood glucose levels. If gestational diabetes is not detected and controlled, it can increase the risk of birth complications, such as babies weighing more than 10lbs when they are born, premature birth, miscarriage or stillbirth.
In most cases, gestational diabetes develops after 28 weeks in the third trimester and usually disappears after the baby is born. However, women who develop gestational diabetes are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.
If you have had gestational diabetes, there is more of a risk of having gestational diabetes in any future pregnancies. It's important to speak to your GP if you are planning another pregnancy as they may arrange for you to monitor your own blood glucose from the early stages.
Gestational diabetes often doesn't have any symptoms, but some women say they:
get recurring infections, such as thrush
have a dry mouth
feel very thirsty
wee a lot
have blurred vision
infographic provided by JMW.co.uk
If you have any of these symptoms, it's important that you tell your midwife or doctor.