What is gestational diabetes?
Many women during the course of their pregnancy can develop gestational diabetes. A diagnosis of this form of diabetes does not mean that you’ve had diabetes prior to pregnancy or that you will have it after giving birth.
It is not exactly known how gestational diabetes occurs, but through research, we have some clues. You placenta supports the baby as it grows. Hormones produced by the placenta help the baby develop. But these hormones can also inhibit the mother’s insulin in her body. She may need as much as three times the normal amount of insulin.
Gestational diabetes occurs when your body is not able to make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy. Without the proper amount of insulin, glucose cannot leave the blood and be changed into energy. This can cause hyperglycemia when too much glucose builds up in the blood.
How to test
Your doctor will recommend screening for gestational diabetes in the second trimester with a glucose challenge test which is a glucose drink followed by a blood draw. Sometimes screening is done earlier if you are at increased risk for gestational diabetes
How can it affect your baby
Typically, gestational diabetes affects the mother late in pregnancy after the baby has been formed, but still growing. Because of the late stage, this form of diabetes does not pose the same risk of abnormalities seen in babies whose mothers had diabetes before pregnancy. However, because high blood sugar levels circulate through the placenta to the child, gestational diabetes must be controlled to protect the baby’s growth and development.
Common risks for child:
- Abnormal weight gain
- Breathing problems
- Higher obesity and diabetes risk
How is it treated
Gestational diabetes is often treated by adjusting your diet or taking oral medications, in some cases, insulin injections are used to treat gestational diabetes.
What can you do?
- Daily exercise
- Controlling pregnancy weight gain
- Carefully planning meals to ensure pregnancy nutrients without excess fat and calories.
DISCLAIMER: The contents and opinions expressed by Everett Clinic teammates and providers on “A Healthier You” blog and those providing comments are theirs alone and are not a substitute for medical advice. Consult your own provider for personal health recommendations.
About This Blog
Ready to take charge of your health? Join the conversation with our team of wellness experts. Get tips on prevention, exercise and strategies for a healthier you!