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Gestational Diabetes: How It Affects You And Your Baby

Gestational diabetes (GDM) is when your blood sugar levels increase and become high during pregnancy, different from diabetic patients who later on become pregnant. The sudden jump in your blood sugar happens when the body has insufficient hormone insulin to turn glucose into energy. This causes a build-up of glucose in the blood and hence the blood sugar increases. 

Pregnant women with GDM usually do not have any signs or symptoms. Therefore, the gynaecologist will test for this condition via Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) between weeks 24 and 28 of pregnancy. 

This test requires pregnant women to fast for a night before they are given a glucose solution to drink. Blood samples will be drawn at different times to check if the glucose level is normal. 

Will It Affect My Baby? 

If GDM is left unmonitored or untreated, it may cause the following complications for both you and your baby. 

    • Excess growth. GDM may cause your baby to grow bigger than 4kg, causing natural birth to be a challenge as it might be too huge to pass through the birth canal. 
    • Premature Delivery. Having GDM may increase chances of early delivery. 
    • Low blood sugar. Your baby may develop low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycaemia after birth. If it is severe, the baby may experience seizures. However, with the right treatment the baby’s blood sugar level returns to normal. 
    • Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Babies will need help with breathing until their lungs mature.    
    • Develop Type 2 Diabetes later in life. 

Who Is At Risk? 

Any pregnant woman can be affected. In fact, if you are experiencing gestational diabetes, there is no need to panic – one in every 5 pregnant women in Singapore has gestational diabetes so it is pretty common to develop this symptom! However, these factors may put you in a higher risk than others: 

    • 35 years or older
    • Family or personal history of diabetes
    • Overweight 
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Will It Be Permanent? 

Usually, gestational diabetes develops in the middle or towards the end of pregnancy. In most cases, it will resolve after giving birth.

If you’ve been diagnosed with GDM, your doctor will request you to come in for a check on your blood sugar after your delivery to see if it’s in the normal range. 

Treating GDM

You can treat GDM by controlling your blood sugar level through the food you eat, your lifestyle as well as medication. During pregnancy, it’s also best to look for food that is good for the 免疫系统 as well as the heart. However, not all diagnosed with GDM requires medication. 

Control your diet by cutting down your calories to 1,800 calories and avoiding fried and oily food. Exclude foods such as your sugary drinks, desserts and processed grains. 

Exercising can help lower your blood sugar as well. It is recommended to have at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. Some exercise classes such as yoga have classes catered for pregnant women. Other than controlling your blood sugar, it can also help to develop techniques that makes your delivery easier and more comfortable!