Just been diagnosed with gestational diabetes?
If you've just been diagnosed with gestational diabetes you may be feeling shocked, upset, overwhelmed, guilty, distressed, in denial, or asking "why me?". It can be a daunting and very confusing time. What may have been the perfect pregnancy could feel completely shattered, or additional complications to an already difficult pregnancy may feel like the last straw for you.
You may be completely unaware of gestational diabetes and may have stopped eating in fear of causing high blood sugar levels, consequently harming your baby.
You may be worried this could mean a pregnancy which is filled with additional hospital appointments, medication, insulin injections, intervention and feel like you will not be able to have the pregnancy and birth you hoped for. You may be worrying that you will now be diabetic for the rest of your life.
You may be very emotional and may spend days crying through fear of the unknown or due to reading or hearing too many horror stories linked to gestational diabetes.
I aim to share with you some information, support and tips based on frequently asked questions in our gestational diabetes Facebook support group.
This information is written by myself as a mother who has been exactly where you are right now. I've experienced 3 gestational diabetes pregnancies and have been researching gestational diabetes for a few years now. I have helped and supported thousands of ladies over the past few years. You're not alone...
Let it sink in but try not to panic
Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes is a BIG deal for most ladies. You may have no idea what it means and are just struck with absolute horror and fear over what this means for your baby and you.
Your head may be racing with a million questions, but put the kettle on and sit down. Let it sink in, join our support group if you wish and then when you feel ready, you can read more.
Don't consult Dr Google!
What do we usually do when we need to know more about something? We consult Dr. Google for his advice! Beware if you do this, the first things that are going to jump out at you can do more damage than good. Remember that people love to share horror stories and bad things, yet it's harder to find the facts and positive outcomes.
With a bit of luck, if you did Google, you may have landed here and we can give you as much information, support and evidence as possible for you to see a truthful account of what being diagnosed with gestational diabetes actually means!
Be kind to yourself
After the initial shock and fear, tends to come the feelings of guilt, blame and beating yourself up. I need to make something clear here... IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT!
There are certain factors which can make you higher risk of getting gestational diabetes, but ALL women have increased insulin resistance in pregnancy. This is due to the hormones released from the placenta. Those who are not diabetic are able to increase insulin production enough so that they can process the glucose in their bloodstream. Those who cannot increase insulin production enough, or cannot use the insulin that is there effectively enough, are diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
So no, that chocolate bar, or piece of cake you ate last week, or that craving for orange juice you've been drowning since you fell pregnant is not the reason you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
If you are feeling guilt or shame, ask yourself would you beat yourself up if you were diagnosed with any other condition, or are you blaming yourself about having diabetes because of a stigma and negative things that are related to diabetes diagnosis? Have you been led to believe it's your fault through poor knowledge and bad media coverage, or something that someone has said to you? If so, then it's time to start learning...
Lack of awareness and knowledge
Leading on from my last point... There are many stigmas attached to diabetes, which the media feed. Many people do not know about gestational diabetes, have never heard of it, or wrongly make assumptions about it through lack of knowledge.
Gestational diabetes is diabetes in pregnancy, it is driven by the placenta and so once the baby and placenta has been delivered you are no longer classed as diabetic.
That said, gestational diabetes can be the flag for detecting pre-existing diabetes and it also means that you have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. For this reason we are screened following birth and then annually, to check.
Gestational diabetes is not Type 1, Type 2 diabetes or MODY, it is diabetes during pregnancy only and it is not the same as other types of diabetes, although the immediate issue (high blood sugar levels) is the same.
Knowledge is power
Once you've given yourself some time to digest the fact that you've been diagnosed, it is time to start to learn a bit more. The more you learn, the greater your knowledge will be and the better you will be to face gestational diabetes and start to take control.
Information out there about every aspect of gestational diabetes is conflicting. If researching gestational diabetes, focus on sourcing information from reliable sources that can back up the information with research and proof.
The information provided on Gestational Diabetes UK has come from researching medical publications and real life experience from mothers who have had gestational diabetes. We aim to share with you as much information, support, hints and tips on as many gestational diabetes topics as possible but we are not medical professionals and cannot offer medical advice.
What happens next?
After being diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you will be asked to attend a clinic appointment at your hospital, but the time of this appointment can be anywhere from the next day to weeks away.
What happens in this appointment can vary in each hospital, but the majority will provide you your home testing blood glucose monitor, show you how to use it, provide you with your testing targets and give you information and advice about gestational diabetes. Many will give dietary advice, but this is one area where we have seen ladies really struggle and so you will see that our dietary advice may be very different and it is reason we try to provide a lot of assistance.
For some real life experiences of clinic appointments, lists of possible professionals you may meet and a list of questions you may want to ask, our clinic appointments page should be helpful.
What does it mean for your pregnancy?
Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes means that you will need to adapt the diet you follow in order to reduce the amount of sugar (glucose) you eat or drink, to keep your blood sugar levels lowered. Unfortunately this is not as simple as cutting out sugary or sweet things. Carbohydrates turn into sugar in the bloodstream and so it is the carbohydrates that also need reducing and changing too. But we can help you lots with some great dietary advice, so please don't worry.
You will need to test your blood sugar levels at home, at certain times each day and record the results.
You may be asked to attend hospital for more clinic appointments and additional growth scans as monitoring both you and your baby with gestational diabetes is important. This may feel like your pregnancy has become more medicalised, but many teams are happy to discuss things over the telephone and depending on how well your blood sugar levels are managed, you may not need to attend many additional appointments.
If you have any problems or concerns over attending hospital appointments then you should discuss these with your team. Communication is key.
If you feel that your diagnosis is wrong then it is best to discuss this with your healthcare professionals. Many ladies who pass the GTT with borderline test results may not see an impact until further into their pregnancy, when insulin resistance worsens.
What does it mean for your baby?
If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes this is good for your baby as it means that your blood sugar levels are monitored and the growth of your baby will be checked more often than what is routinely offered in pregnancy.
Good control of blood sugar levels means that any risks and complications associated with gestational diabetes are significantly reduced.
If gestational diabetes is not diagnosed or blood sugar levels are not well controlled the baby will be exposed to excessive amounts of glucose from the mother's bloodstream which may lead to complications.
Nobody wants to be diagnosed with a condition like gestational diabetes, but having it diagnosed and monitored is much better for your baby than the consequence of having it, not knowing and not being diagnosed.
Does gestational diabetes mean I'm going to have a big baby?
As soon as you learn about gestational diabetes, you will see that the first thing that comes up is that excess glucose in the mothers bloodstream passes through to the baby causing the baby to grow big for gestational age.
Whilst this is true, if gestational diabetes is diagnosed, blood sugar levels monitored, dietary changes made and medication or insulin taken if needed, the glucose passing through the baby is decreased and keeps the baby's growth within the normal centiles.
Therefore the majority of ladies do not have 'big' babies and those that have had previous 'big' babies, often have much smaller ones following a diagnosed gestational diabetes pregnancy.
Don't stop eating, but make dietary changes today
This can actually have a detrimental effect on blood sugar levels. If a meal or snack is missed then blood sugar levels can drop low and when this happens the liver dumps glucose into the bloodstream to give energy and keep us going.
There's no need to wait until you see your hospital or dietitian, you can make changes today with our dietary advice, which will be hugely beneficial.
Will I be able to eat chocolate or sweet things?
Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes means adapting to a diet which will help lower and stabilise blood sugar levels.
It is advisable to cut most sweet or sugary foods and drinks from your diet but you will still be able to eat some sweet treats. (You just have to learn which things are safer to try).
It may be different to what you are used to, but we share lots of ideas with you to help. For example, you can still eat chocolate but it should certain types, small amounts and eaten with other specific foods to help stop the glucose from it raising your blood sugar levels too high.
Will I have to inject insulin?
Insulin is only used when diet and medication such as Metformin do not lower blood sugar levels to a low enough range. Occasionally due to extremely high GTT readings or extreme excessive growth of the baby, or very late diagnosis, some ladies may be advised to start insulin from diagnosis, but this is not common.
If the time comes when you need to start medication for gestational diabetes, then we will share lots of information and support around this. My advice is to take one step at a time, cross that bridge IF and WHEN you need to.
Will I have to be induced?
NICE guidance recommends IOL (induction of labour) at 40+6 weeks, unless there are maternal or fetal complications, but each trust and hospital will have their own guidelines as to when they recommend delivery for your baby, based on evidence and your own pregnancy journey.
It is each individual's right to choose whether to accept induction or not if it is advised and your choices should be informed. We provide more detailed information on induction including Scottish (SIGN) and Irish (HSE) guidelines and home and water births.
Research for yourself and ask questions at your appointments with your team. Your healthcare professionals are there to support you throughout your pregnancy and birth.
Many experienced healthcare professionals can be more than happy to use their expertise when helping to make decisions and plans over your birth.
Will I have to have a Caesarean section because I have gestational diabetes?
No, gestational diabetes diagnosis itself is not a reason to be advised to have a caesarean section.
Caesarean sections are only advised due to other complications or a patients personal history which may mean that vaginal birth could cause further complications.
Does it mean I won't be able to have a VBAC?
No, NICE guidance states:
1.4.6 Diabetes should not in itself be considered a contraindication to attempting vaginal birth after a previous caesarean section. 
If you are advised to have an induction, you may find that certain methods are recommended over others for a planned VBAC inductions.
It's important to have a good support network around you following diagnosis as at times things can be tough going.
Our support page for family and friends is a great page to share with those who you need support from.
The page has been designed to be shared in the hopes that it will help them learn and understand what you may be going through and it also explains gestational diabetes in brief detail too.
It has a comparison to other types of diabetes (for those that may have other types and compare or may think they know better).
Our Facebook support group is a closed group for women only who have or have had gestational diabetes