Diabetes

Surprising Facts About Gestational Diabetes

Regardless of your family history or current health status, if you’re pregnant with multiples, you’re at a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes. “There are occasionally women who have no risk factors and it really surprises us when they have it, but they do, so that’s why we test everybody.” Stephen Schuermann MD, of Samaritan Obstetrics and Gynecology, explains.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar that starts or is first diagnosed during pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones limit insulin’s ability to do its job. When this happens, glucose builds up in your blood and, if left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause harm to you and your baby.

Risks include:

  • Having a large baby, of 10 pounds or more
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) in the newborn
  • Jaundice in the newborn
  • Pregnancy-related high blood pressure
  • Premature delivery

Risk for Gestational Diabetes Goes up if You’re Pregnant with Multiples

While being pregnant with multiples is a risk factor, a family history of diabetes, being overweight or obese before pregnancy, and gaining too much weight during pregnancy can cause gestational diabetes, too.

On the other hand, occasionally women with no risk factors develop gestational diabetes – and for this reason, you’ll be screened regardless. “We test all women for gestational diabetes at 24 to 28 weeks,” Dr. Schuermann points out.

I’ve Been Diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes: Now What?

Dr. Schuermann says the main way to manage your gestational diabetes is with maintaining a healthy, doctor-approved exercise regimen and modifying your diet, which includes reducing the number of carbohydrates you eat. 

Additionally, you’ll need to do a finger prick in the morning and then an hour after each meal. Then, at every doctor appointment, you’ll bring in a log with your blood sugar. “If diet and exercise are healthy, about 80 percent of the time, that will help. About 20 percent of the time, after a few weeks, your blood sugars are high and we may need to add medication,” Dr. Schuermann points out.

Will My Gestational Diabetes go Away After I Deliver?

In most cases, gestational diabetes does go away after you deliver; however, not always. Your doctor will order a blood sugar test about six weeks post-delivery, during your first post-partum visit, to make sure you’re OK. “Most of the time, you are,” Dr. Schuermann says. “Those women, though, are at a higher risk for developing diabetes in the future, so for any mom who’s had gestational diabetes, it’s important, every year or two, when they’re seeing their primary care doctor, to get tested.”

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Last Updated: July 30, 2014