Gestational diabetes is a confusing, and at times alarming, disease that nearly 10 percent of pregnant women face. So while it’s common, we understand the overwhelming nature of a gestational diabetes diagnosis.
Gestational diabetes is diabetes detected during pregnancy that can affect both your pregnancy and baby’s health. Like the forms of diabetes you have likely heard more about, it causes high blood sugar, which, in turn, can lead to more serious issues.
The fact that you can test positive for gestational diabetes without being diabetic prior to pregnancy causes many women to question why they are now diabetic and how it will affect their baby. Not only that, there are no clear symptoms to point to this form of diabetes.
To ease your concerns, we are here to explain more about gestational diabetes.
Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes
As we mentioned, there are no distinct symptoms of gestational diabetes. It’s merely something we test for when you are pregnant and visit us. Increased urination and thirst are possible symptoms, but they are not definitive signs that you have gestational diabetes.
Risk Factors of Gestational Diabetes
While when not pregnant your hormones will keep your blood sugar level in check (if you are not diabetic), when you are pregnant your hormone levels change. This, in turn, makes it harder for your body to process blood sugar, sometimes causing gestational diabetes.
Researchers have noted you could be at a higher risk for gestational diabetes if, among other things:
- You don’t engage in enough physical activity
- Are overweight
- Suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
- Are pre-diabetic
- Previously suffered from gestational diabetes
- An immediate family member is diabetic
Testing for Gestational Diabetes
There are two main types of tests to detect gestational diabetes, and if you are a pregnant patient at our practice, we will test for it.
Glucose Challenge Test:
This is also known as the glucose screening test. This test begins by you drinking a liquid containing glucose (no fasting required). An hour after you drink the glucose drink, we will draw your blood, and if your blood glucose is 140 or more, we may ask you to come back for further testing.
Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT):
If your blood glucose was or exceeded 140 in the previous test, we will likely ask that you return for an OGTT. During this test we will draw your blood (after fasting) every two to three hours, and if we detect high blood glucose levels during two or more blood test times, we will move forward with helping you manage your gestational diabetes.
Managing Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes is not a pregnancy disease that we can cure, but we can manage it. We will work with you on developing a healthy meal plan, determining a pregnancy-safe exercise regime, and, if necessary, find the right medication for you.
Complications of Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes is something we will work closely with you to manage because if not, it can lead to further complications, including an increased likelihood for the need of a C-section.
Some complications of gestational diabetes include, but are not limited to:
For your baby:
- Excessive birth weight, increasing the likelihood of birth injuries
- Early birth
- Development of severe breathing issues
- Risk of future obesity or developing Type 2 diabetes
- Risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life
- Risk of preeclampsia
- Likelihood you will have to undergo a C-section
We are here for all of your pregnancy questions and needs. We know a diagnosis of gestational diabetes can be daunting and confusing. As your pregnancy partner we will be here from everything from initial testing to management of gestational diabetes.