Last Update on September 20, 2022
Medically reviewed by Alexandra E Brown, MD
| Causes | Symptoms | Risk factors | Diagnosis | Prevention | Complications | Treatments |
A woman may get gestational diabetes during pregnancy who has not had any type of diabetes before. Gestational diabetes affects somewhere between 2% and 10% of pregnancies each year in the world. Taking care of your gestational diabetes will help ensure that both you and your unborn child have good pregnancies.
Gestational diabetes impacts how your cells use sugar, similar to other types of diabetes (glucose). High blood sugar levels caused by gestational diabetes can harm both you and your unborn child’s health.
If you suffered from gestational diabetes during your pregnancy expecting, your blood sugar often is back to normal soon after giving birth. However, if you’ve ever suffered from gestational diabetes, your risk of getting type 2 diabetes is higher. You’ll need to have your blood sugar checked more frequently.
1. Causes of Gestational Diabetes:
A woman gets gestational diabetes when her body didn’t produce enough insulin while you’re pregnant. The pancreas produces the hormone insulin, which functions as a key to allowing blood sugar to enter your body’s cells for use as fuel.
The body produces more hormones during pregnancy, along with other changes like gaining more weight. Insulin resistance is a condition where your body’s cells use insulin less efficiently as a result of these changes. If you have insulin resistance, your body needs extra insulin.
Insulin resistance is a normal development in late pregnancy in pregnant women.
However, some females have insulin resistance before becoming pregnant. They are more likely to get gestational diabetes and have higher insulin needs at the start of the pregnancy.
2. Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes:
Usually, gestational diabetes has no symptoms. Your doctor might believe that you have diabetes based on your medical history and if you have any risk factors, but you must be diagnosed to be sure.
3. Risk factors:
Gestation diabetes risk factors usually involve:
- Being obese or overweight
- Without engaging in any exercise
- Being pre-diabetic
- A prior pregnancy that resulted in gestational diabetes
- A polycystic ovary syndrome diagnosis
- Early birth, can result in breathing and other issues
- A low blood sugar level
- Later in life developing type 2 diabetes
- Having a diabetic relative of close family
- Having just had a child that weighed more than nine pounds (4.1 kilograms)
- Being an American who belongs to a specific race or ethnic group, such as Black, Hispanic, American Indian, or Asian.
After your baby is born, your blood sugar levels will often return to normal. However, type 2 diabetes develops in roughly 50% of pregnant women with gestational diabetes. By regaining healthy body weight after birth, you can reduce your risk. Visit your doctor to have your blood sugar levels checked six to twelve weeks after the birth of your child and then once every one to three years to confirm that your blood sugar level is within the normal range.
4. Gestational Diabetes diagnosis:
It’s essential to get diagnosed with gestational diabetes so you can start treatment and protect both your health and the health of your unborn child.
You’ll likely be tested between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy because gestational diabetes typically appears around the 24th week of pregnancy.
Your doctor might test you early if you’re at a higher risk for gestational diabetes. Early in your pregnancy, blood sugar levels that are higher than normal could be a sign of type 1 or type 2 diabetes rather than gestational diabetes.
Depending on your health care provider, screening tests may differ slightly, but typically include:
- Initial glucose challenge test
- Follow-up glucose tolerance testing
The more healthy routines you can develop before becoming pregnant is greater the prevention of Gestational Diabetes during pregnancy. There are no guarantees when it concerns the prevention of gestational diabetes. These healthy choices could lower your risk of getting type 2 diabetes or suffering gestational diabetes again in the future if you’ve already had it.
- Eat healthy foods: Take fiber-rich, calorie- and fat-free foods. Put an emphasis on whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. To support you in achieving your goals without sacrificing flavor or nutrients, strive for variety. Follow nutrition labels.
- Keep active: Exercise can help you prevent having gestational diabetes before, during, and after pregnancy. On the majority of days of the week, plan for 30 minutes of moderate exercise. Go for a quick walk each day. Take a bike ride. swimming laps Especially little surges of exercise, like parking away from the store when going shopping or taking a quick walk break, add up.
- Maintain weight: Losing excess weight before becoming pregnant may help you have a healthier pregnancy. Concentrate on implementing long-lasting dietary adjustments that will support you during pregnancy, such as increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables.
- Recommended weight: Pregnancy-related weight gain is normal and healthy. Although you are at risk of getting gestational diabetes if you gain too much weight too quickly. Consult your doctor about the recommended degree of weight growth for you.
6. Complications of Gestational Diabetes:
Uncontrolled gestational diabetes might result in high levels of blood sugar. High blood sugar levels can harm both you and your unborn child, increasing the probability that you will both require delivery-related surgery.
6.1. Complications that may affect your baby:
If you have gestational diabetes, your baby may be at higher risk of:
- Excessive birth weight
- Early (preterm) birth
- Serious breathing difficulties
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia
- Later in life may get type 2 diabetes and obesity
6.2. Complications that may affect you:
Further, gestational diabetes may raise your risk of:
- High blood pressure and preeclampsia
- Having a surgical delivery (C-section)
- Future diabetes
7. Treatments for Gestational Diabetes:
Gestation diabetes is treated with:
- Lifestyle changes
- Blood sugar monitoring
Keeping your blood sugar under control supports both your and your baby’s health. You can also prevent difficulties throughout pregnancy and delivery with close supervision.
7.1. Lifestyle changes:
Your lifestyle, including what you eat and how you move, is important to ensure appropriate blood sugar levels. Since your body is working so hard to support your developing kid, health care professionals typically advise against losing weight while pregnant. However, based on your pre-pregnancy weight, your doctor can help you set weight-gain objectives.
Changes in lifestyle include:
- Healthy diet: In addition to limiting highly processed carbs, especially sweets, a healthy diet significantly positive effect, on vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein—foods that are high in nutrition and fiber and low in fat and calories. You can develop a meal plan with the aid of a trained dietitian or professional diabetes care and education specialist based on your present weight, pregnancy weight gain objectives, blood sugar level, exercise routine, food preferences, and spending limit.
- Staying active: Every wellness approach, whether it be for the time before, during, or after pregnancy, encourages regular physical activity. Your blood sugar is reduced by exercise. Additionally, regular exercise might aid in easing some of the more typical pregnancy aches and pains, such as back pain, muscle cramps, swelling, constipation, and difficulties sleeping.
- Monitoring your baby: Your doctor will monitor the growth and development of your child.
7.2. Blood sugar monitoring:
Checking your blood sugar levels to ensure they remain within a healthy range.
If diet and exercise are not sufficient to control your blood sugar levels, insulin injections may be required. Fewer than half of pregnant women with gestational diabetes require insulin to achieve their blood sugar targets.
To control blood sugar levels, some medical professionals prescribe oral medicine. Other medical professionals think further study is required to prove that oral drugs are as secure and efficient in managing gestational diabetes as insulin injections.