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How Do You Know If You Have Gestational Diabetes

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Who Is At Risk Of Gestational Diabetes

Gestational Diabetes: What to Know

Between 3% and 8% of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes. It is usually detected around weeks 24 to 28 of pregnancy, although it can develop earlier. Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes can be both unexpected and upsetting. It is important to reach out and get support and help with managing it.

Some women are at increased risk of developing gestational diabetes. This includes women who:

  • are over 40 years of age

Education About Insulin Commencement

It is very important that you get information and support from your diabetes educator or doctor on how insulin works, how to give insulin and how to store it.

Insulin sometimes causes blood glucose levels to go too low , so it is very important that you learn the signs and symptoms of this and how to prevent and treat it .

Signs And Symptoms Of Prediabetes

Usually there are no noticeable symptoms associated with prediabetes, so a blood test is the best way to determine if you have the condition. Keep in mind that any of the following could put you at risk:

  • You have an immediate family member with diabetes
  • You are overweight or obese
  • You live a sedentary lifestyle
  • You have a high waist circumference
  • You had gestational diabetes or had a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds
  • Your HDL cholesterol is too low or your triglyceride level is too high
  • Youre of African, Native American or Latin American descent or an Asian/Pacific Islander
  • You take certain medications, such as corticosteroids or beta-blockers.

Find more information on prediabetes risks here.

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Who Is Most At Risk For Gestational Diabetes

While researchers aren’t certain why some women get gestational diabetes while others dont, they do know that you may be at an increased risk if:

In the U.S., about 90 percent of pregnant women have at least one risk factor for gestational diabetes, which is why universal screening is thought to be the most practical approach.

Causes: Why Does Gestational Diabetes Occur

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Insulin resistance causes gestational diabetes. Diana Gariglio-Clelland says, Pregnancy hormones can cause an increase in the amount of sugar in the mothers bloodstream, and pregnancy can reduce insulin sensitivity. Insulin is the hormone necessary to lower blood sugar levels, and when the body is resistant to insulin, it makes blood sugar levels rise.

However, not all pregnant women develop gestational diabetes. Being overweight or obese, gaining weight during pregnancy, PCOS, high blood pressure, diabetes in the family, and late pregnancy increase the risk of gestational diabetes , .

So, how do you know if you have gestational diabetes? Are there any symptoms you can look out for? And, how do you diagnose gestational diabetes? Scroll down to find out.

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Delivery When You Have Gestational Diabetes

When planning for the baby’s arrival, the doctor will access the size of the baby to determine if you can deliver vaginally. If you have been able to keep your blood glucose well- controlled, your baby’s weight is within an appropriate range, you don’t have any other pregnancy concerns such as high blood pressure, and you are not on medication, than your labor should proceed just as it would if you didn’t have gestational diabetes. Of course, your delivery team will monitor your blood sugar throughout.

If your baby is considered too large for you to deliver vaginally than you will likely be induced at weeks 38 or 39. You and your doctor may also decide that a cesarean section may be a better route for delivering the baby. Should blood sugar levels get too high during labor, the baby may release more insulin in response. That increases the risk of the baby developing low blood glucose after birth so a C-section may be considered.

How Is Diabetes During Pregnancy Treated

Treatment will depend on your symptoms, your age, and your general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

Treatment focuses on keeping blood glucose levels in the normal range, and may include:

  • A careful diet with low amounts of carbohydrate foods and drinks

  • Exercise

  • Oral medicines for hypoglycemia

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How To Know If You Have Diabetes

If youâre experiencing some or all of the above signs, your GP should be your first port of call.

âWe do whatâs called a glycated haemoglobin test, which gives an indication of your blood glucose over the past three months,â explains Hamish. âThereâs a range that is diagnostic of diabetes, and thereâs a range thatâs considered normal â and then thereâs something in between, which is a prediabetic range.â

If youâre prediabetic, your doctor will do an oral glucose tolerance test. If thatâs positive, youâre diabetic, says Hamish.

âBut if itâs negative, you need to monitor the situation to make sure that, if the diagnosis of diabetes comes around, itâs caught early before any damage starts to happen.â

What To Do If You Are Diagnosed With Gestational Diabetes

What do I need to know about gestational diabetes?

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Gestational diabetes is a common affliction on many pregnant women. So, what do you do if youre diagnosed gestational diabetes? I personally, had gestational diabetes during BOTH of my pregnancies. Its not fun, but you can survive it.

Its a hard pill to swallow your blood glucose test came back high.

You just learned you have gestational diabetes. What now?

If its anything like my experience, you dont get the counseling the same day you hear the diagnosis. Most likely youll run home and get online to search for information. Its torture while you wait to learn what you can/cant eat. You are afraid of hurting your baby by eating the wrong foods.

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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.

Medications For Gestational Diabetes

Its 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 dont need to worry about it harming your baby. Because blood sugars can fluctuate during different stages of pregnancy, youll probably be advised to monitor your levels at home to maintain the correct dosage. Dont worry, your doctor will walk you through the process each step of the way.

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How Gestational Diabetes Can Affect You

As mentioned above, gestational diabetes often comes with no symptoms, so you probably wont know that you have it until the doctor diagnoses it. However, gestational diabetes can still have an effect on you.

Gestational diabetes can increase your risk of high blood pressure while youre pregnant. Also, you may have a larger baby, which can make delivery difficult or require a C-section.

Gestational diabetes can also put you more at risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Effects And Risks Of Gestational Diabetes

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Elevated blood sugar in the mothers blood translates into higher blood sugars in the babys blood. High blood sugars in the fetus blood can cause a number of problems. One of the most common problems is that these babies can be much bigger in size at birth, the medical term for this being macrosomia.

High blood sugar can also lead to early labor and delivery, or be recommended due to the size of the baby. Gestational diabetes can also lead to low blood sugar, which can be dangerous for infants born with low blood sugar, as they are at risk for seizures. Untreated gestational diabetes has also been linked to stillbirths. Respiratory distress syndrome affects some newborns, a condition in which the baby has difficulty breathing.

On the mothers side, women with gestational diabetes can have a greater risk for having type 2 diabetes later in life, or gestational diabetes in future pregnancies. Additionally, it can increase your risk for high blood pressure, which poses a serious risk to your health and the health of your baby during delivery. Mothers with gestational diabetes more frequently need a C-section to avoid the risks of a vaginal birth.

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Will Gestational Diabetes Go Away

Most likely, after you deliver your baby, gestational diabetes should go away. About six weeks after delivery, your doctor will check your blood glucose level to see if its in the normal range again.

However, because you had gestational diabetes, youre at a higher risk for having it again in another pregnancy. Youre also at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. To learn how to prevent type 2 diabetes, read our article on prevention.

  • American Diabetes Association. Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes2018. Diabetes Care. 2018 41:S137-S143.
  • International Association of Diabetes and Pregnancy Study Group Recommendations on the Diagnosis and Classification of Hyperglycemia in Pregnancy. Diabetes Care. 2010 33:676682
  • Metzger BE, Lowe LP, Dyer AR, et al, for the HAPO Study Cooperative Research Group. Hypergylycemia and adverse pregnancy outcomes. N Engl J Med. 2008 May 8 358:1991-2002.
  • Ottawa Histology website. The placenta. Available at: Accessed April 30, 2009.
  • 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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    Who Is At Risk Of Getting Diabetes

    Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition, and the causes arenât known, but people with a family history of the condition are at higher risk of developing it than those with no familial connection.

    Type 2 diabetes is more common in people who are overweight , who have very low levels of physical activity and who eat an unhealthy diet.

    âThings like family history, obesity, poor diet â and by poor diet, I mean processed foods, high-carbohydrate foods, ice-cream, soft drinks, processed food⦠theyâre all risk factors,â says Hamish.

    • Ageing

    • Women who are overweight and have polycystic ovarian syndrome

    • Being older than 35 and from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, Pacific Island, Indian subcontinent or Chinese cultural background

    • Having had gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

    Living a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes â think: maintaining a healthy weight, moving regularly, eating a balanced diet and not smoking. If you have high blood pressure or cholesterol, managing those is also important.

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    Symptoms Of Gestational Diabetes

    How to Know if I Have 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
    • tiredness

    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 youre worried about any symptoms youre experiencing.

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    Definition: What Is Gestational Diabetes

    Gestational diabetes is a condition during the second or third trimester of pregnancy where blood sugar levels are abnormally high. It can develop in women without previously diagnosed diabetes . So, what triggers gestational diabetes? Find out in the next section.

    Note: There are two types of gestational diabetes A1GDM and A2GDM. A1GDM is responsive to nutritional therapy, but A2GDM is only responsive to medical treatment .

    What Causes Diabetes During Pregnancy

    Some women have diabetes before they get pregnant. This is called pregestational diabetes. Other women may get a type of diabetes that only happens in pregnancy. This is called gestational diabetes. Pregnancy can change how a woman’s body uses glucose. This can make diabetes worse, or lead to gestational diabetes.

    During pregnancy, an organ called the placenta gives a growing baby nutrients and oxygen. The placenta also makes hormones. In late pregnancy, the hormones estrogen, cortisol, and human placental lactogen can block insulin. When insulin is blocked, its called insulin resistance. Glucose can’t go into the bodys cells. The glucose stays in the blood and makes the blood sugar levels go up.

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    What Are Possible Complications Of Diabetes During Pregnancy

    Most complications happen in women who already have diabetes before they get pregnant. Possible complications include:

    • Need for insulin injections more often

    • Very low blood glucose levels, which can be life-threatening if untreated

    • Ketoacidosis from high levels of blood glucose, which may also be life-threatening if untreated

    Women with gestational diabetes are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes in later life. They are also more likely to have gestational diabetes with another pregnancy. If you have gestational diabetes you should get tested a few months after your baby is born and every 3 years after that.

    Possible complications for the baby include:

    Can Gestational Diabetes Be Cured


    Most women with gestational diabetes who receive treatment go on to deliver healthy babies. The risk of complications increases when blood glucose levels are not properly controlled. While some women with gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes following delivery, this risk can be reduced by following a good nutritional plan, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight.

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    Signs You Might Have Gestational Diabetes

    Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes thats diagnosed for the first time during gestation, or pregnancy.

    Like other forms of the disease, gestational diabetes affects how your cells use glucose, the sugar that provides energy for your body, increasing blood sugar to levels that can affect both you and your baby’s health.

    About 2%-5% of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes, and the numbers increase to 7%-9% for those more likely to have risk factors.

    Theres good news, though. Pregnant women can help control their sugar levels by eating a healthy diet, exercising, and taking medication, if necessary.

    But while your blood sugar generally returns to normal shortly after delivery, if youve had gestational diabetes, youre in a higher risk category for getting Type 2 diabetes. What this means is you need to have your blood sugar checked more often.

    A board-certified OB/GYN, Dr. Hany H. Ahmed provides comprehensive womens health care at his office in Houston, Texas. He specializes in treating high-risk pregnancies, including women with gestational diabetes.

    Dr. Ahmed can provide you with the targeted care you need for both yourself and your baby. Hed like you to be informed about this condition, so hes put together this guide to help you understand what your bodys going through during this challenging time.

    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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    Diagnosing And Treating Gestational Diabetes

    Your doctor will ask you to schedule a glucose challenge test around 24 or 28 weeks of pregnancy. During your appointment, youll drink a glucose solution and be asked to wait one hour in the office. After one hour, you will have a blood sugar test. Your doctor will let you know if results are abnormal and if another test is needed.

    The follow-up test, a glucose tolerance test, is also given in your doctors office. Youll need to fast overnight. Then, arriving in your doctors office you will have your blood drawn. After the first blood test, you will drink a glucose solution. Your blood will then be checked once an hour over three hours. A gestational diabetes diagnosis is given if two of the three blood draws have higher than normal blood sugar levels.

    Your health care provider will discuss a treatment plan thats right for you if you do have gestational diabetes. That may include:

    • More frequent doctor appointments to check your blood sugar levels
    • Healthy eating
    • Limiting refined sugar and carbohydrates
    • Monitoring blood sugar at home

    If you are having a hard time managing your gestational diabetes, you may need insulin. Your doctor will help decide whats right for you.

    If you have questions about gestational diabetes or are concerned about your risk, talk to your provider today. Find a doctor near you.

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