An overview
of pregnancy
diabetes

Pregnancy diabetes can sometimes interfere with the smooth progress of a pregnancy. Fortunately, certain measures can help to control it.

Pregnancy diabetes in a few words

Diabetes can develop at any age. It is defined as an increase of blood glucose (blood sugar levels in the blood), also called “hyperglycemia.” There are three types of diabetes: type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and pregnancy diabetes (or gestational diabetes). The latter differs from the others because it develops during pregnancy, lasts throughout it, and usually ceases after childbirth.

Pregnancy diabetes is not uncommon, it affects roughly 3 to 20% of pregnant women in Canada. Due to the consequences it can have on the mother and the foetus, screening is done in all pregnant women between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy, sometimes sooner.

Certain symptoms can be indicative of diabetes:

envies fréquentes d’uriner

urge to urinate more frequently

soif persistante

persistent thirst

appétit augmenté

increased appetite

vision brouillée

blurred vision, and

fatigue

fatigue

If you have similar symptoms or any other unusual symptoms at any time during pregnancy, consult a doctor.

The consequences of pregnancy diabetes

Untreated hyperglycemia can have several significant consequences for mothers during and after pregnancy: vision problems, high blood pressure, and increased risk of type 2 diabetes. For the unborn child, maternal hyperglycemia increases the production of insulin, which can have the following consequences:

  • intrauterine growth restriction
  • delayed lung development
  • heart problems
  • premature birth
  • birth weight greater than 4 kg, and
  • postnatal hypoglycemic episodes

Optimal blood glucose management as soon as you know you are affected by pregnancy diabetes will limit the consequences of the disease.

Managing blood glucose

The key therapeutic objective for pregnancy diabetes is to manage blood glucose so it remains within a healthy range. The first step in achieving this is to make some lifestyle changes.

A healthy diet can make a big difference, and in some cases, avoid the use of medication. However, it is very important not to choose a diet that excessively reduces calories, as this could affect the baby’s growth.

Regular physical activity is also beneficial, as it contributes to the mother’s general health and helps to maintain blood glucose.

Treating and monitoring blood glucose

Despite applying the previously mentioned measures, blood glucose may not be low enough. A drug treatment must be considered promptly. The medication often used to treat pregnancy diabetes is injectable insulin. It has been shown that insulin is safe and effective during pregnancy.

In order to achieve balanced blood glucose levels, you must closely monitor your blood glucose using a small device (blood glucose meter). Choose a blood glucose meter that's right for you, according to your tastes and lifestyle, which will make monitoring much easier. Your pharmacist can provide information, so you can make the most suitable choice.

In sum, pregnancy diabetes must not be taken lightly, as it is both yours and your baby’s health that are at stake. Speak to your pharmacist for additional information about pregnancy diabetes and its treatment.

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An overview of pregnancy diabetes

Pregnancy diabetes can sometimes interfere with the smooth progress of a pregnancy. Fortunately, certain measures can help to control it.
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