What Are The Symptoms
Because gestational diabetes may not cause symptoms, it is important for you to be tested for gestational diabetes.
Sometimes a pregnant woman who has symptoms has been living with another type of diabetes without knowing it. If you have symptoms from another type of diabetes, they may include:
- Increased thirst.
- Increased hunger.
- Blurred vision.
Pregnancy causes most women to urinate more often and to feel more hungry. So having these symptoms doesn’t always mean that a woman has diabetes. Talk with your doctor if you have these symptoms, so that you can be tested for diabetes at any time during pregnancy.
Medications For Gestational Diabetes
It’s possible that even after changing your eating habits and exercise routine, your blood sugar levels will continue to remain too high during pregnancy. This is not your fault, just as developing gestational diabetes in the first place was not your fault. Continue to work with your doctor to get your blood sugar levels under control. Doing so will ensure the best outcomes for your pregnancy.
The preferred medication for gestational diabetes is insulin. Insulin does not cross the placenta, so you don’t need to worry about it harming your baby. Because blood sugars can fluctuate during different stages of pregnancy, you’ll probably be advised to monitor your levels at home to maintain the correct dosage. Don’t worry, your doctor will walk you through the process each step of the way.
Other Ways To Keep You And Your Baby Healthy With Gestational Diabetes
Asterino-McGeean recommends keeping your doctor in the know as your pregnancy progresses. Continue with your scheduled appointments. Since your pregnancy is considered high risk if you have gestational diabetes, your obstetrician may also have you see a high-risk specialist for the remainder of your pregnancy, she says. ;
Managing gestational diabetes is ultimately a team sport and you are the quarterback. Self-monitoring blood glucose levels at home is important for a healthy pregnancy and baby, adds Asterino-McGeean. ;
Heres how to do it:;
- Monitor your sugar;four times a day. After fasting and one to two hours after each meal. ;
- Keep a written log;of your blood sugar levels. Send it to your doctor every one to two weeks or as they recommend. ;
The most important thing is preventing high blood sugar levels to keep you and your baby safe,;says Asterino-McGeean.
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Treatments For Gestational Diabetes
If you have gestational diabetes, the chances of having problems with your pregnancy can be reduced by controlling your blood sugar levels.
You’ll be given a blood sugar testing kit so you can monitor the effects of treatment.
Blood sugar levels may be reduced by changing your diet and exercise routine.;However, if these changes don’t lower your blood sugar levels enough, you will need to take medicine as well. This may be tablets or insulin injections.
You’ll also be more closely monitored during your pregnancy and birth to check for any potential problems.
If you have gestational diabetes, it’s best to give birth before 41 weeks. Induction of labour or a caesarean section may be recommended if labour does not start naturally by this time.
Earlier delivery may be recommended if there are concerns about your or your baby’s health or if your blood sugar levels have not been well controlled.
Find out more about;how gestational diabetes is treated.
Prevention Of Gestational Diabetes
While there is no guaranteed way to prevent gestational diabetes, there are some steps you can take to lower your risk.
The best way to reduce your risk of developing gestational diabetes is to maintain a proper diet and body weight prior to and during the pregnancy, as well as increasing physical activity, Borst says.
Focus your diet on healthy foods that are high in fiber and low in fat like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day. These healthy habits can make lasting changes that will help you through your pregnancy.
However, sometimes women who are of normal weight, who exercise and have a healthy diet, still may develop gestational diabetes, Fay says. In these cases, it is likely to occur because of the effects of placental hormones. Genetics may also play a role, as there is a higher risk of gestational diabetes in patients who have a first-degree relative with diabetes, Fay says.
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Who’s At Risk Of Gestational Diabetes
Any woman can develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy, but you’re at an increased risk if:
- your;body mass index is above 30 use the healthy weight calculator to work out your BMI
- you previously had a baby who weighed 4.5kg or more at birth
- you had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
- 1 of your parents or siblings has diabetes
- you are of south Asian, Black, African-Caribbean or Middle Eastern origin
If any of these apply to you, you should be offered;screening for gestational diabetes;during your pregnancy.
Understand The Glycaemic Index
The gylcaemic index ; is a measure of how quickly foods containing carbs affect your blood sugar levels after you eat them. Some foods affect sugars levels quickly and so have a high GI, and others take longer to affect blood sugar levels and so have a low GI. To;help you manage your blood sugar levels, go;for carbs with a lower GI.;;Youll still need to think about your portion sizes. Its the amount of carbs in the meal that will affect your blood sugar levels the most. And not all low GI foods are healthy, so make sure you read food;labels and make a healthy choice.
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How Gestational Diabetes Can Impact Your Baby
We don’t know what causes gestational diabetes, but we have some clues. The placenta supports the baby as it grows. Hormones from the placenta help the baby develop. But these hormones also block the action of the mother’s insulin in her body. This problem is called insulin resistance.;Insulin resistance;makes it hard for the mother’s body to use insulin. She may need up to three times as much;insulin.
Gestational diabetes starts when your body is not able to make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy. Without enough insulin, glucose cannot leave the blood and be changed to energy.;Glucose;builds up in the blood to high levels, called;hyperglycemia.
Gestational Diabetes And Pregnancy
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that is first seen in a pregnant woman who did not have diabetes before she was pregnant. Some women have more than one pregnancy affected by gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes usually shows up in the middle of pregnancy. Doctors most often test for it between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.
Often gestational diabetes can be controlled through eating healthy foods and regular exercise. Sometimes a woman with gestational diabetes must also take insulin.
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Do Keep A Food Journal
Write down every single thing you eat and note the carb amounts next to it. After 1 hour, test your blood sugar and write the result in your journal.
After a week of doing this, I had over a dozen go-to meals and snacks that I knew would keep my levels in check. I also knew which foods put me over the edge and which ones to absolutely avoid. Of course, my favorites were on that list.
This makes meal planning, preparation, grocery shopping, and eating well so much easier in the long run. gestational diabetes
If You Have Gestational Diabetes How Can You Help Prevent Getting Diabetes Later In Life
For most women, gestational diabetes goes away after giving birth. But having it makes you more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life. Type 2 diabetes is the most common kind of diabetes. If you have type 2 diabetes, your pancreas makes too little insulin or your body becomes resistant to it . ;
Heres what you can do to help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes after pregnancy:
- Breastfeed. Breastfeeding can help you lose weight after pregnancy. Being overweight makes you more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
- Get tested for diabetes 4 to 12 weeks after your baby is born. If the test is normal, get tested again every 1 to 3 years.
- Get to and stay at a healthy weight.
- Talk to your provider about medicine that may help prevent type 2 diabetes.;
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What Can I Do To Make Living With Gestational Diabetes Easier
Make diabetes management part of your daily routine. Create a schedule and stick to it. Try to:
- Check your blood glucose levels at the same time each day.
- Choose three days each week to get 30 minutes of light exercise.
- Plan small, balanced meals ahead of time.
- Talk with your healthcare provider or a diabetes educator about other tips for daily diabetes management.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Gestational diabetes develops in pregnant women when theres too much glucose in their blood. GD is usually diagnosed during the middle stage of pregnancy with a few simple blood tests. If left untreated, GD can cause health complications for the mother and the baby. Most women can manage gestational diabetes with diet and exercise. Some will need medication. Gestational diabetes increases your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. Talk to your healthcare provider about ways to reduce your risk of diabetes before, during and after pregnancy.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/14/2021.
How Is It Treated
Some women with gestational diabetes can control their blood sugar level by changing the way they eat and by exercising regularly. These healthy choices can also help prevent gestational diabetes in future pregnancies and type 2 diabetes later in life.
Treatment for gestational diabetes also includes checking your blood sugar level at home and seeing your doctor regularly.
You may need to give yourself insulin shots to help control your blood sugar. This insulin adds to the insulin that your body makes. Diabetes medicines may be used to control gestational diabetes in some women.
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How Can Diabetes Affect My Baby
A babys organs, such as the brain, heart, kidneys, and lungs, start forming during the first 8 weeks of pregnancy. High blood glucose levels can be harmful during this early stage and can increase the chance that your baby will have birth defects, such as heart defects or defects of the brain or spine.
High blood glucose levels during pregnancy can also increase the chance that your baby will be born too early, weigh too much, or have breathing problems or low blood glucose right after birth.
High blood glucose also can increase the chance that you will have a miscarriage or a stillborn baby.1 Stillborn means the baby dies in the womb during the second half of pregnancy.
Can Gestational Diabetes Affect My Baby
If gestational diabetes is not well looked after it may result in problems such as a large baby, miscarriage and stillbirth. A large baby can create the risk of injury at delivery, caesarean delivery, forceps delivery and a need for the baby to be looked after in special care until the glucose level stabilises after delivery. Other complications may include pregnancy loss and premature delivery. If any problems occur, the hospital will care for you and your baby.
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After The Babies Are Born
At my six-week postpartum checkup, I was sent for another glucose tolerance test. I passed this one, thankfully, but will continue to be checked annually.
Having gestational diabetes;puts you at high risk for developing type two diabetes in the future but there are things you can do to combat this risk:
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While one ever wishes to develop gestational diabetes, the bottom line is that its far from the worst thing that could happen in pregnancy. It can carry a hefty learning curve but, for the most part, it is easily managed with the right diet and exercise plan.
Dont Worry About What You Can Do To Pass Your Glucose Screening
The internet is full of people asking how to pass the glucose screening. I get it, its a pain the butt, especially if you fail by a measly few points and you have to take the 3 hour. Plenty of people say things like, just dont eat anything the day of or ;take a walk before it or the worst: opt out of it.
My advice? Dont change anything. gestational diabetes
Simply put, this is one test that you do not want to cheat on. And the reality is that if you have it you wont be able to hide it anyway so dont even worry about it.
Remind yourself that if somehow it did go undiagnosed it puts your babies at risk of complications like macrosomia, hypoglycemia, preterm labor, and respiratory issues.
Drink the drink, get the stick, and hope for the best! But in the event that you fail as I did
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Complications That May Affect You
If you have gestational diabetes, youre more likely to get it again during a future pregnancy. You also have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes as you get older.;Testing may be done a few months after the delivery to make sure your blood sugar levels have returned back to normal. Talk to your doctor if you experience symptoms of Type II diabetes.
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What If I Test Positive
Remember: its not the end of the world. Its scary, but as youll learn, you and your baby will be fine.
If your test is positive, your doctor will most likely prescribe more doctor appointments, and monitor your blood sugar closely. Youll be asked to take your blood sugar several times a day. I took mine every few; hours, which meant I pricked my finger to get a reading 5 6 times per day.
Many times, you can control your blood sugar through a healthy, no sugar-diet. Other times, insulin may be required.
Because I closely monitored my sugar levels, ate a no-sugar diet, and made sure I exercised every day, I was able to stay off insulin.
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Symptoms Of Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes does not usually cause any symptoms.
Most cases are only discovered when your blood sugar levels are tested during;screening for gestational diabetes.
Some;women may develop;symptoms if their blood sugar levels gets too high;,;such as:
- needing to pee more often than usual
- a dry mouth
But some of these symptoms are common during pregnancy and are not necessarily a sign of gestational diabetes. Speak to your midwife or doctor if you’re worried about any symptoms you’re experiencing.
Problems Of Gestational Diabetes In Pregnancy
Blood sugar that is not well controlled in a woman with gestational diabetes can lead to problems for the pregnant woman and the baby:
An Extra Large Baby
Diabetes that is not well controlled causes the babys blood sugar to be high. The baby is overfed and grows extra large. Besides causing discomfort to the woman during the last few months of pregnancy, an extra large baby can lead to problems during delivery for both the mother and the baby. The mother might need a C-Section to deliver the baby. The baby can be born with nerve damage due to pressure on the shoulder during delivery.
A C-section is an operation to deliver the baby through the mothers belly. A woman who has diabetes that is not well controlled has a higher chance of needing a C-section to deliver the baby. When the baby is delivered by a C-section, it takes longer for the woman to recover from childbirth.
High Blood Pressure
When a pregnant woman has high blood pressure, protein in her urine, and often swelling in fingers and toes that doesnt go away, she might have preeclampsia. It is a serious problem that needs to be watched closely and managed by her doctor. High blood pressure can cause harm to both the woman and her unborn baby. It might lead to the baby being born early and also could cause seizures or a stroke in the woman during labor and delivery. Women with diabetes have high blood pressure more often than women without diabetes.
Low Blood Sugar
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More Than One Test May Be Needed For Diagnosis
There are a couple of tests used to determine whether a woman has gestational diabetes. The first is called a Glucose Challenge Test. Depending on the results of this first test, a second test called a Glucose Tolerance Test may be necessary.
For the glucose challenge test, you do not need to fast before the appointment. There are two steps for this test:
- At the beginning of the appointment, youll be given about five ounces of a glucose solution to drink. The solution is syrupy and some women may find they do not like the taste.
- You stay in the office or lab setting for an hour to wait to have your blood tested. After the hour is up, blood is drawn from a vein in your arm. The blood will then be tested to see your blood sugar level.
If your blood sugar is too high , you might have gestational diabetes. To confirm the diagnosis, you will need to have a different test done.;
The second test will be a glucose tolerance test. This test differs from the glucose challenge test in several ways even if the general idea is the same. For example, the glucose tolerance test takes three hours instead of just one and you must fast before the appointment. Then the process is as follows:
- A blood sample is taken at the beginning to determine fasting blood sugar.
- You will drink about eight ounces of the glucose solution.
- Your blood glucose level will be tested again one, two and three hours after you drink the solution.;