Pregnancy-related or ‘gestational’ diabetes is a condition that occasionally develops in the second half of the pregnancy. It’s termed ‘diabetes’ because it’s characterised by having a high level of sugar in your blood (as in true diabetes). However, unlike true diabetes, it doesn't occur because of any underlying disorder, it isn’t lasting, nor is it necessarily associated with complications for the baby. Gestational diabetes develops as a result of changes to your body chemistry and, in most cases, disappears shortly after the baby is born.
Your blood sugar levels are checked by urine tests carried out as part of your antenatal appointment. It’s normal for these levels to be slightly raised. However, if they’re above a certain point you may be asked to have some special blood tests to check them more fully. In some areas these tests are offered to all women.
If you’re diagnosed as having gestational diabetes, you may be advised to monitor your own blood sugar levels, cut out sugary foods, or possibly take insulin. You’re also likely to be carefully monitored for the remainder of your pregnancy. The nature of the risks, if any, of having high levels of blood sugar during a pregnancy, has yet to be conclusively established. If you feel that the results of a test may be worrying or stressful, and you would prefer to avoid them, consult your doctor.