Some of the most common problems explained with help from The
Private Clinic of Harley Street
Becoming a new mother is one of the most exciting times in a
woman’s life but there is no denying that pregnancy and child birth can have
some less than desirable side effects on woman’s body.
Many women will often choose to suffer in silence because they
feel embarrassed about talking about their symptoms. However, there is no
reason for women to feel like this; these conditions are common and many of
them can be easily treated.
B asked the experts at The Private
Clinic of Harley Street – one of the country’s leading
cosmetic surgery groups – to share their expertise on some of the most common
post-pregnancy health complaints.
Varicose veins are swollen and enlarged veins which have become widened,
lumpy and twisted. They are usually blue or dark purple in colour and
typically occur under the skin of the legs. They form because the valves in the
legs stop working properly and as a result, when we stand up, the blood in our
legs will fall down the veins, rather than flowing upwards towards the
Mr Dynesh Rittoo, Vascular
Surgeon, says:“When you are pregnant, you are at a
much higher risk of developing varicose veins as the weight of the growing baby
puts added pressure on the veins in your pelvis. This makes it harder for
the blood to flow and therefore increases the likelihood of the veins
“As well as this, during pregnancy,
there is more blood circulating around the body to help with the development of
the baby, also increasing pressure on the veins.
“Although there is little evidence to
suggest you can prevent the formation of varicose veins, there are some simple
steps you can take to help ease the symptoms of existing varicose veins,
including avoiding standing
or sitting still for long periods of time. You can also wear support stockings,
take breaks throughout the day, raise your legs on pillows to ease any pain or
discomfort and take regular exercise. This will help by improving
circulation and causing the blood to flow smoothly.”
Haemorrhoids are dilated blood vessels in and around the
lower rectum and anus and they are caused by increased pressure on the pelvis.
Haemorrhoids are an incredibly common condition that effects many pregnant
women, or women after childbirth.
Mr Nick West, Consultant General
Surgeon, says: “When you are pregnant, haemorrhoids
are more likely to form as the veins below your uterus become swollen and
stretched and the weight of your growing baby increases pressure on these
veins.Constipation is also a key factor in the development of
these haemorrhoids, as the straining that comes with this can aggravate,
or even cause, haemorrhoids.
“They can settle down a bit after childbirth, as the pressure on the pelvis is
relieved. If your haemorrhoids do persist after childbirth, then you can manage
the condition by taking steps such as staying hydrated and drinking lots of
water, increasing the amount of fibre in your diet, using baby wipes or moist
toilet paper rather than dry paper and using over-the-counter topical
treatments and pain killers.
“If your haemorrhoids persist for more
than a couple of months after childbirth, it is probably time to consult a
A bunion, medically
known as a Hallax Velgus, is a deformity on the foot around the big toe. They
form when the big toe leans towards the second toe rather than pointing
straight ahead and this throws the bones out of alignment producing the bump.
Dr Andrea Bianchi, Consultant
Orthopaedic Surgeon, says: “Genetics play a
major part in the formation of bunions; this means that if your mother or
grandmother suffered from them, then it is likely that you will also develop them.
During pregnancy the weight of the unborn child means that women tend to put
more weight on the front of the foot to give them greater stability. This can
cause the front of the foot to collapse, increasing the risk of painful bunions
forming. Wearing appropriate orthopaedic insoles when pregnant can reduce the
risk of bunions forming.
“Unfortunately, once bunions
form, they will not go away without undergoing surgery. They can cause chronic
pain, swelling and redness over the big toe joint, particularly after wearing
tight-fitting shoes or shoes that don’t fit you properly. The symptoms of
bunions can be eased by wearing wide shoes with a low heel and soft sole,
bunion pads to reduce rubbing and taking regular painkillers to ease the
It is common knowledge that pregnancy and child birth can affect a
women’s body in a variety of different ways but perhaps one of the most
surprising changes is in the thickness of hair.
Jane Mayhead, Senior Trichology
Consultant, says: “During pregnancy, many women will find
that their hair will grow quicker and become much thicker than before
pregnancy. This is because during pregnancy, women will experience a surge of
hormones, particularly oestrogen, and it is when these levels rise that women
will experience an increase in hair growth and less hair fall.
“The oestrogen hormone causes the
growth cycle of the hair to increase and often delays the transition to
shed. This means that the hair is less frequently renewed and replaced at
the site of the follicle. As a result, pregnant women will find that they will
not only have more hair but it will be thicker and shinier hair.
“Therefore, when the hormone levels
decrease after child birth, the growth and thickness of the hair will also
decrease. This hair loss is more common than people think and I frequently see
patients who are concerned about post-pregnancy hair loss and thinning.
“Maintaining a balanced diet can help
boost the strength of hair. Keratin is the fibrous protein in hair and nails
which is the main structural element. Therefore a diet consisting of protein-rich
foods will naturally boost the keratin and consequently, the strength of your hair.”
Acne is a very common skin condition that tends to form on the
face0 and is one that can be particularly problematic for pregnant women and
new Mummies. The condition it characterised by painful spots, oily skin and
Dr Rishika Sinha, Consultant Dermatologist, says: “Many
women suffer from acne during pregnancy and post pregnancy. Women will find
that it often occurs during the six-week period when there is a surge in the
hormone progesterone. This causes the glands to produce more sebum (oil
secretion) and this can sometimes clog up pores and encourage bacteria, leading
to inflammation and acne.
“The best option is to continue to
thoroughly cleanse your face with a mild cleanser morning and night during your
pregnancy, as well as washing hair, pillows and towels regularly. Some
women will find that the acne will go away after giving birth, but if the acne
persists after pregnancy, then I would suggest seeking advice from a
dermatologist who can advise on the best course of treatment.”
Are you glowing? Even if you are, you may find your skin changes during pregnancy. Here’s how to cope with pregnancy skin.
by Sally J Hall
When people tell you you’re
blooming – you really are!
Your skin retains more
moisture then usual during
pregnancy, plumping it
and giving you a smooth
complexion. There’s also a
lot of extra blood in your
system, so you have a great
colour. Enjoy it! However, if
you have some issues due
to pregnancy hormones,
here’s how you can keep
your complexion calm.
Teenage acne may be a memory but pregnancy may cause a breakout. Or you may suffer from a common pregnancy rash called pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP) – harmless to your baby, though annoying for you!
The solution: Avoid products marketed for acne (especially prescription ones), as they aren’t suitable for pregnant skin. Use natural products like tea tree oil (dilute in a carrier oil like almond) and wash daily with a mild cleanser. Gentle steaming can help clear spots but never touch or squeeze them.
My skin is more sensitive
Though you might have been able to put any old thing on your skin up to now, you may find that creams and lotions you’ve always used suddenly start to irritate. You may also find that using scrubs and peels causes redness and spots. Perfumes can cause sensitivity and you may even feel rather nauseous at certain smells.
The solution: Make some changes to your skincare routine. Avoid harsh scrubs and use a soft wash cloth instead. Use products with fewer chemicals and look for creams with natural and organic ingredients.
My skin is dry
If you’re lucky enough to avoid acne, you may find that your skin is dryer than usual. It may also be itchy, especially on your growing tummy and sometimes on arms and legs.
The solution: Keep hydrated – inside and out! Make sure you are drinking water (especially when exercising) to hydrate your skin. This also flushes out toxins that cause skin problems. Have long soaks in the bath, using Dead Sea Salt, which helps open pores to allow water to sink into the skin, or oatmeal (put in a pop sock under the hot tap). You can also try a humidifier in your bedroom to help your skin feel more comfortable at night.
I can’t enjoy the sun
You may be glowing but it may be for the wrong reasons! Sunshine and heat may make it hard to get cool. Add to that heat rash, especially on the lower legs if you pound the hot city streets and you may be feeling a little miserable. Pregnancy hormones can make skin more sensitive to the sun and cause melisma – darker patches on your skin, sometimes known as ‘the mask of pregnancy’. You may also find that your nipples darken in colour and that moles and freckles become more pronounced. This is because the body creates more melanin during pregnancy, the hormone that helps us tan. Some women find they get a dark line, the linea negra, on their tummy.
The solution: Try to keep in the shade as much as you can and cover up in loose, comfortable light clothing. Wear a good sunscreen – again, look for one with as few chemicals as possible.
I am getting broken or varicose veins
Sometimes women get spider veins (naevi) which are tiny blood vessels that have broken down in the skin. Alternatively, veins on the lower legs may become bumpy and start to ache. These are known as varicose veins and can occur in other places on the body too.
The solution: Though veins on your face may be quite visible now, you can have them treated after the baby’s birth by a beautician. You can help prevent varicose veins by putting your feet up and wearing compression tights.
A liver disorder that can occur during pregnancy, it often presents as itchiness of the hands and feet. It can be serious, leading to premature birth or stillbirth, so you will be closely monitored and may be offered an induction at 37 weeks. It will resolve itself after pregnancy but tends to run in families and will probably recur in a subsequent pregnancy.
What every pregnant woman should know about Group B Strep
What is Group B Strep?
Now you’re pregnant, you may have heard friends or the media talking about Group B Strep and its dangers to unborn babies; this term is short for Group B streptococcus, also known as GBS, which is a bacteria that can be present in our bodies at any time. Around one in five pregnant mummies-to-be in the UK has GBS in their vagina or digestive system.
What are the risks of Group B Strep to my unborn baby?
In rare cases, your baby might be born early, you might have a miscarriage or your baby might be stillborn.
What are the risks once my baby is born?
For most women, their baby can be born with no problems at all but in rare cases, the baby is exposed to the bacteria during the birth and becomes infected.
GBS infections may include blood poisoning (sepsis), pneumonia or even meningitis, an infection of the lining of the brain.
What could make my baby more at risk?
If your baby is born early – before 37 weeks of pregnancy – they are more at risk; if you had a previous baby which had GBS, you are also more at risk. Other risks include your baby being born more than 18 hours after your waters broke and if you suffered from a high temperature during labour.
How can I tell if my baby has been infected?
If your baby does gets an infection, prompt action is needed, as babies can become very ill quite quickly. Symptoms include:
A raised temperature – or a very low one
Not feeding and being uninterested in milk or food
They are more listless, grumpy, floppy or unresponsive than normal
They make strange sounds such as grunting
Their hear and breathing rates may be faster or slower than normal
What complications can this cause?
In the mother, an infection may result in sepsis, which is very dangerous. In the baby, this is also a very serious infection. One in 10 babies will die from GBS and many more will have further lasting complications such as cerebral palsy, blindness or deafness and learning difficulties.
How can I avoid and prevent Group B Strep?
Firstly, it’s important to understand your risk. Women in the UK are not routinely tested for GBS but you can request a test or even take one at home to find out if you are affected. Strepelle offers a home kit that you use to take two swabs, which are then tested in a laboratory. This enables you to find out what your GBS risk is. With that information, you and your health team can make plans for your baby’s birth.
If you do have the infection, you may be given antibiotics during labour and you and your baby will be closely monitored after the birth.
If you are suffering from pain in pregnancy, you can’t take most over the counter pain killers, so find out how to freeze it to cope with pregnancy pain
It is recommended that pregnant and breastfeeding women avoid taking medicated pain-killers. So what can women use to relieve pain? Midwife Marie Louise, gives her top tips on when and how to usecooling therapy: the process of using cold temperatures to reduce tissue inflammation and soothe a range of pregnancy and new mum pains.
The physiological explanation behind cryotherapy is two-fold:
“Dermatomal confusion:” On impact to the skin, the cold temperature triggers the cold sensors in the skin to travel to the brain faster than the pain sensors, reducing the feeling of pain. This explains why non-medical cooling products (for example products that don’t contain ingredients like ibuprofen), still relieve pain. The cold sensation ‘distracts’ from the pain sensation.
“Inflammation reduction:” When ice is applied to swollen tissue, such as a sprained ankle, the cold temperature constricts the surrounding blood vessels and thus reduces blood flow to the area. The lack of blood flow to the damaged area decreases inflammation.
Marie Louise, “The Modern Midwife”, is a practicing senior midwife on a mission to help women have quicker labours, easier births and smoother postnatal periods. Follow @the_modern_midwife for pregnancy, labour and birth updates.
As your baby grows, the round ligament which connects your womb to your groin stretches, making it more likely to become strained. Often women experience sharp ligament pains in their side during the second trimester. It’s best to get checked and diagnosed before treating at home.
Option: “Keep a cocoa or shea butter moisturiser in the fridge and apply the cool cream to soothe your growing bump. The cocoa or shea butter may also help reduce stretch marks”.
As your baby grows it becomes increasingly difficult to find a comfortable position to sleep and many women wake up with sore and stiff necks.
Option: “Try pre-natal yoga. It is low intensity and safe to do during pregnancy, but will help you gently strengthen your muscles and ligaments. You will also meet other mums-to-be!”
Muscular lower back pain
As your baby grows during pregnancy it is natural for your centre of gravity to shift forward. In order to keep balance your body compensates by leaning backwards – which in turn can strain the muscles in your lower back, causing lower back pain.
Option: “Place a Deep Freeze Pain Relief ColdPatch to your lower back and let the cooling therapy work its magic”
Needing a break from carrying your precious load? Swollen ankles with no other symptoms are common and not usually anything to worry about, but can be uncomfortable.
Option: “Take a seat and dip your feet into a cooling foot bath. Cold water is a one stop shop for relieving your swollen aching ankles.”
There are limited pain relief options to treat episiotomies as many breastfeeding women are recommended to avoid oral painkillers
Option: “Pour water into disposable maxi pads and put them in the freezer to create your own cold pad. You can add Aloe Vera gel to them to make them extra soothing”
Getting great advice during your pregnancy on health and nutrition can be hard – especially as everyone seems to have a different opinion. We round up the very best advice with our ten steps to pregnancy health.
We talk to Roshni Patel, Consultant in Maternal Medicine & Obstetrics At Chelsea and Westminster NHS FT, London, about managing heart conditions in pregnancy
If you were born with a heart condition (also known as a congenital cardiac condition), you may be at greater risk of problems whilst you’re pregnant. For all women, the heart has to work harder during pregnancy to support the 50% increase in blood volume and the developing baby. These changes start very early in pregnancy and for women with a congenital heart condition or have developed one later in life, this can put even more strain on the heart.
So, it’s very important to mention any heart conditions that you have or that run in the family when you meet your midwife, and have a conversation about additional investigations or monitoring that you will require. Depending on the condition, you may need to be referred to a high-risk obstetrician and a cardiologist who has experience in treating pregnant women. You may even need to be referred to a specialist pregnancy cardiac team (even if it is at some distance from your local hospital) and attend regular checks there. You can anticipate needing many more appointments and scans compared with someone with no medical conditions. Your medication will be closely monitored and adjusted if required. For example, some medication for high blood pressure (such as ACE inhibitors) cannot be used during pregnancy. Each person will be different, but pregnancy could lead to arrhythmia (a very fast or irregular heartbeat), shortness of breath or chest pain.
There is a risk that your cardiac condition could affect your baby’s health. For example, they might have a lower birth weight or need to be born prematurely. You may have more frequent scans from about 28 weeks to ensure that your baby is growing well. It is important to remember that the majority of babies born to women with cardiac conditions have no problems and are born after a 9 month pregnancy.
Cardiac conditions are common. Even if the parents do not have a cardiac condition there is a 1% risk of the baby being born cardiac condition. But with most other congenital conditions, which are not genetically transmitted, the chance of the baby having a heart condition is only about 3-5%. Some cardiac conditions are inherited, such as Marfan’s syndrome; 50% of children with a mother or father with this condition will inherit the condition.
When giving birth, you will be under the care of an obstetrician and will need to be closely monitored. Quite often, women can await labour to start naturally and do not need to be induced early. You will need to deliver on a labour ward and a pool or home birth will not be possible. You will almost certainly be given an epidural to limit the stress on your body and may also need a ventouse delivery to reduce the exertion in labour. Many women with cardiac conditions need to stay in hospital for a couple of days longer after the birth so that the medical team can see that their heart is returning to its pre-pregnancy condition. Having a cardiac condition does not interfere with a mother being able to breastfeed.
If you are not pregnant and have a cardiac condition, it is best to see your GP about referral for a pre-pregnancy counselling appointment to get more detailed information from an obstetrician/cardiologist and allow time for any changes in medication or investigations to be performed before you conceive.
We talk to Dr Shazia Malik, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at The Portland Hospital, about CMV and Hepatitis B in pregnancy
Cytomegalovirus (CMV), a member of the human herpesvirus family, is the most common viral cause of congenital infection, affecting 0.2–2.2 per cent of all live births. It is responsible for significant morbidity, especially in infants who are symptomatic soon after birth. It is the leading non-genetic cause of sensorineural hearing loss and a major cause of neurological disability. Around 10 to 15 per cent of neonates with congenital CMV will be symptomatic at birth, with a similar percentage developing problems later in childhood.
Being diagnosed with CMV infection when you are pregnant can be very stressful. However, it does not necessarily mean that your baby has the virus. Of all the women who catch CMV for the first time during pregnancy, only around a third will pass it to their unborn baby.
CMV is the most common infection passed from mother to unborn baby and occurs when a mother is infected with CMV and it passes through to her unborn baby. About one third of women who become infected with CMV for the first time during pregnancy pass the virus to their unborn babies. Around one in five children born with the virus will develop permanent problems due to the infection – nearly 1,000 babies every year. These problems include hearing loss, physical and motor impairment, seizures, autism, learning difficulties and visual impairment.
Diagnosis of CMV infection during pregnancy usually follows an abnormal scan or test. This can be confusing and stressful. However, it does not necessarily mean that the infection has been passed on to your baby or that they will be affected by the virus.
The majority of babies born with congenital CMV will not have any symptoms at birth and will not suffer any long term problems. However, two or three babies are affected by the CMV virus every day in the UK – almost 1,000 babies every year. Congenital CMV causes more birth defects and childhood deaths than Down’s Syndrome, Toxoplasmosis (from cat poo) or Listeriosis (from soft cheese).
Can CMV be prevented?
The best way to try to avoid getting infected with CMV is by practicing good hygiene.
If you are pregnant, it is a good idea to:
regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water, particularly when caring for children or handling anything with body fluids on it
regularly clean surfaces and objects that may have body fluids on them
wear gloves when changing nappies (not so practical!)
avoid contact with children’s saliva
avoid sharing food, cups, utensils, or toothbrushes
this is especially important if you work with children in your day to day life
All pregnant women in the UK are offered a hepatitis B blood test when they first book for antenatal care.
If the mother is infected, her baby is given injections of antibodies and also immunised straight after birth (the transmission of the virus to the baby is thought to occur mainly during childbirth and not during the pregnancy).
With this treatment there is a good chance of preventing infection developing in the baby. Most obstetric units will manage your care in conjunction with a physician who specialises in the care of people with Hepatitis and other diseases which can affect the liver. It is important that your partner also gets tested, especially if this is a new and unexpected diagnosis. You will also be offered testing for Hepatitis C, which is another cause of chronic liver problems and needs specialist care and input.
Depending on when the infection is thought to have occurred – and how infectious it is at the time of diagnosis – you may need further blood tests and scans to monitor your liver and plan care for you during your pregnancy and for your baby after birth. If your baby has the course of vaccinations for Hepatitis B after birth, then you may be advised that it is safe to breastfeed.
We talk to Dr Shazia Malik, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at The Portland Hospital about chickenpox in pregnancy
Most women (at least 8 out of 10) are immune to chicken pox, having had it in childhood. If you come into contact with chickenpox when you are pregnant and you have already had chickenpox, you will be immune and there is nothing to worry about.
However, if you have never had chickenpox, or are not sure, see your GP as soon as possible. You can have a blood test to find out if you are immune. Eight out of 10 women in this situation will be immune without realising it. If you develop a rash in pregnancy, you should contact your GP or midwife.
If you are not immune to chickenpox and you come into contact with it during pregnancy, you may be given an injection of varicella zoster immune globulin (VZIG). This is a human blood product that strengthens the immune system, although it may not prevent chickenpox developing. It is safe to have in pregnancy. VZIG can make the infection milder and not last for as long. The injection can be given within the first 10 days after you come into contact with chickenpox as long as you don’t yet have any symptoms. VZIG does not work once you have blisters.
Chickenpox can be serious for your health during pregnancy. Complications can occur such as chest infection (pneumonia), inflammation of the liver (hepatitis) and inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). Very rarely, women can die from complications. You are at greater risk of complications if you catch chickenpox when you are pregnant if you:
Have a lung disease such as bronchitis or emphysema
Are taking steroids or have done so in the last three months
Are more than 20 weeks pregnant.
If any of these apply to you, you may need to be referred to hospital
What could chickenpox mean for my baby during pregnancy and after birth?
The risk of your baby catching chickenpox depends on when in your pregnancy you catch it. The highest risk is during the last four weeks of pregnancy. If you catch chickenpox:
Before 28 weeks of pregnancy there is no evidence that you are at an increased risk of early miscarriage. Your baby is unlikely to be affected; however there is a small chance that damage could occur to the eyes, legs, arms, brain, bladder or bowel. This only happens in fewer than one in 100 babies. You will be referred to a fetal medicine specialist for ultrasound scans and discussion about possible tests and their risks.
Between 28 and 36 weeks of pregnancy the virus will stay in your baby’s body but will not cause any symptoms. The virus may become active again, causing shingles in the first few years of his or her life.
After 36 weeks of pregnancy; this is the time when your baby is at greatest risk of getting chickenpox. If your baby is born within seven days of your chickenpox rash appearing or you get chickenpox within the first week after birth, your baby may get severe chickenpox. He or she will be given VZIG and treated with an antiviral drug called Aciclovir and monitored closely after birth.
It is safe to breastfeed if you have had chickenpox during pregnancy or after the birth of your baby. If you have blisters close to the nipple, you should express milk from that side (and throw it away) until they crust over. If you catch chickenpox in pregnancy or when you are trying to become pregnant, you should avoid contact with other pregnant mothers and new babies until all your blisters have crusted over.
Can I be treated if I develop chickenpox during pregnancy?
If you are more than 20 weeks pregnant, you can be given Aciclovir to reduce fever and symptoms. This should be given within 24 hours of the chickenpox rash appearing.
Aciclovir is not licensed in pregnancy but does not appear to be harmful for unborn babies and therefore may also be considered before 20 weeks. You will able to discuss the benefits and risks with your doctors.
When should I be referred to hospital if I have chickenpox?
Your GP should send you to hospital if you have chickenpox and develop any of the following:
Chest and breathing problems
Headache, drowsiness, vomiting or feeling sick
A rash that is bleeding
A severe rash.
These symptoms may be a sign that you are developing the complications of chickenpox. If this is the case, aciclovir may be given to you through a drip in your arm. You should also be admitted to hospital if you have a condition that means your immune system does not work as well as it should (known as being immune suppressed). If you need to be admitted to hospital, you will be nursed in a side room away from babies and pregnant women until your blisters crust over. This is normally five days after the onset of the rash.
We speak to Mr. William Dennes from Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea Hospital about high blood pressure in pregnancy
This condition, also known as hypertension, affects 5-10% of pregnant women. Some women will have the condition already (known as Chronic or Essential Hypertension) and other will develop it during pregnancy, which is known as Pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH).
Pre-eclampsia is a more serious condition, which can affect both the mother and baby, and is associated with high blood pressure, protein in the urine (proteinuria) and swelling (oedema). It may be associated with a small baby (intrauterine growth restriction).
You are more at risk if it’s your first pregnancy, you have had high blood pressure before becoming pregnant or if you had pre-eclampsia in a previous pregnancy.
Close monitoring for blood pressure and protein in the urine are essential and as the condition can affect the placenta, you’ll need to be have additional ultrasound scans.
You may be advised to deliver earlier with early induction of labour (or Caesarean section).
If you have suffered with high blood pressure for some time, you will have medication to help you control it and, with the advice of your pregnancy health professionals, you should continue to take this, though your doctor may change what you take or how you are taking it.
You will be more closely monitored than women with uncomplicated pregnancies and you should also make sure you take regular exercise, eat a good and well balanced diet and watch your salt intake.
Mr William Dennes from Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea Hospital, talks to us about managing diabetes in pregnancy.
Type 1 or 2 Diabetes
If you have Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes (a condition in which the body is unable to process sugar effectively), the chances are that you have already had conversations with your diabetes specialist and health team about getting pregnant and then managing your condition while you are pregnant. It’s important that you stay on top of your diet and insulin routines while you’re trying for a baby and even more so once you are pregnant, to ensure that both you and your baby stay well. You should also take the increased dose of folic acid.. You can get this on prescription from your doctor, as it’s not available over the counter.
Having Diabetes may increase the risk of pregnancy complications such as miscarriage and also of having a large baby (fetal macrosomia), so you may be advised to have an earlier induction of labour or a caesarean section. You should be under the care of an obstetrician for your pregnancy and birth. Babies born to diabetic mothers may themselves have health problems, which you should discuss with your Obstetrician. The key to good outcome in diabetes in pregnancy is tight sugar control.
Gestational Diabetes is a condition that develops while you are pregnant and whilst it goes away again after you have had your baby, it increases the life-time risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It can come on at any time, but is more common in the second and third trimester. It is a condition in which your body becomes unable to produce enough insulin, the hormone that controls your blood sugar levels. With careful management of the condition and its symptoms, both you and your baby should be fine.
There are a number of risk factors for Gestational Diabetes including, increased Body Mass Index (BMI) (over 30), if your family is southern Asian, Afro-Caribbean, Middle Eastern and Chinese, if you had Gestational Diabetes during a previous pregnancy or if you had a baby weighing over 10 lbs (4.5kg) before. It may be completely without symptoms, though you may be thirsty more often, need to pass urine more often or have a dry mouth. For women at an increased risk of gestational diabetes, a glucose tolerance test (GTT) is arranged usually at 28 weeks (although sometimes earlier).
If your blood test picks up Gestational Diabetes, you’ll be given a blood testing kit so that you can keep a close eye on your blood sugar levels. You will be given dietary advice on how to reduce your blood sugar levels and you may need tablets (such as Metformin) or insulin injections to control your blood sugar levels.