About Gestational Diabetes

Get all the information you need to know to help prevent and manage gestational diabetes as well as other lifestyle diseases including type 2 diabetes

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All you need to know

Did you know that the rate of gestational diabetes is higher in Canberra than any other city in the country? Whilst there is no one real cause, there is a lot of evidence that suggests managing your weight, eating healthy and moving more can help to improve your chances of preventing gestational diabetes as well as other lifestyle diseases including type 2 diabetes Here is a guide to everything you need to know about Gestational Diabetes.


Treatment

While a diagnosis of gestational diabetes may be daunting, research has come a long way in identifying treatment options available. The most important thing is to be tested so you can make pro-active choices about how to manage your condition to ensure the health of you and your baby both during pregnancy and beyond.  In most cases, the treatment of gestational diabetes involves daily monitoring of blood sugar levels and a change in lifestyle including healthy eating and regular exercise. In other cases, medication may be prescribed to help manage help regulate sugar levels. Don't forget, your new healthy habits such as eating well, and exercising regularly will put you in good stead for losing your post-baby weight and reducing the risk of lifestyle diseases in the future such as type 2 diabetes. 


Causes

Many women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes ask themselves what they did to cause their diagnosis. The fact is, there is no single cause, and genetic factors like age, ethnic background and family history can all increase your risk. Women planning a pregnancy, in the early stages of pregnancy and between pregnancies can reduce their risk of being diagnosed with gestational diabetes by eating a healthy balanced diet and exercising regularly.


Diagnosing

The day you receive the test results from your gestational diabetes test can be a bit of a nervous wait. Gestational diabetes is usually tested between 24 and 28 weeks of falling pregnant as the symptoms are not always visible.   If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, there are many steps you can take to help manage your blood glucose levels to lessen the impact on you and your baby's health and many support services available.


Levels

If you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, monitoring your blood sugar levels is one way to see how your body is responding to diet, exercise and medication. Continual spikes in blood sugar levels can put you at risk of complications during pregnancy, so careful monitoring can help manage those risks. How often you check your levels will depend on each individual and usually requires doing an at-home finger prick test to draw a droplet of blood that can be inserted into a testing machine. Your doctor or diabetes educator will help you understand the ideal blood sugar levels for you. 


Risk Factors

For women planning or in the early stages of pregnancy, it is important to understand risk factors that can lead to gestational diabetes. Whilst risk factors such as genetic makeup, age and ethnic background cannot be changed, we can change the lifestyle we choose to lead. We know from research that reaching a healthy weight, eating well and moving more, can greatly to reduce the risk of developing gestational diabetes. Practising healthy habits early on will set you and your baby up for a healthy future, including preventing lifestyle disease such as type 2 diabetes.


Future Risks

While gestational diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born, we know that there are some possible long term health risks for both you and baby. Babies whose mothers had gestational diabetes have a higher risk of obesity and developing type 2 diabetes in later life. Mothers who had gestational diabetes are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease later in life. Adopting healthy lifestyle changes during your pregnancy journey and continuing them with your family after pregnancy can break the cycle of developing lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease in the future.


Prevention

Unfortunately, preventing gestational diabetes is not always in our control. Whilst genetic makeup, age and ethnic background are risk factors we cannot change, the good news is that there are things we can modify to lower the risk of developing gestational diabetes. Studies show that being a healthy weight, following a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise are important factors in preventing gestational diabetes. Adopting a healthy lifestyle before, during and after pregnancy is a huge return on investment. Not only will it reduce the risk of developing gestational diabetes but other lifestyle conditions including 2 diabetes and heart disease in the future.


Support

It is essential to have a good support network around you when pregnant, for both your physical and mental health, especially if you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. The right support network can provide you with factual information about the condition, give you practical tips and tools and help you navigate treatment options. The good news is that for Canberra women, there are many different support options available. 


NDSS

Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes gives you access to the NDSS (National Diabetes Service Scheme). The NDSS is an initiative of the Australian government, providing you with access to reliable and affordable services and products. You can access NDSS services and support by calling the NDSS Helpline on 1300 136 588 .

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