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Why Do You Get Gestational Diabetes

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Will Gestational Diabetes Affect My Baby

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Your baby will probably be healthy, if you and your doctor manage your blood sugar while you have gestational diabetes.

Right after you give birth, doctors will check your newborn’s blood sugar level. If itâs low, they may need to get glucose through an IV until it comes back up to normal.

Gestational diabetes raises the chance that you will have a baby who is larger than normal. It’s also linked to jaundice, in which the skin looks yellowish. Jaundice generally fades quickly with treatment.

Although your child will be more likely than other kids to get type 2 diabetes later on, a healthy lifestyle can cut that risk.

Favorite Orgs For Essential Info On Gestational Diabetes

ACOG is the leading group of obstetricians and gynecologists dedicated to improving womens health. Learn about ways to manage gestational diabetes, how to track blood sugar levels, and steps you can take to have a healthy pregnancy from the experts who diagnose and treat the condition every day.

This project from the International Diabetes Federation , an umbrella organization of more than 240 diabetes associations in 168 countries, offers articles, as well as video guides on insulin, healthy eating, and blood glucose monitoring. You can also test your knowledge with interactive quizzes on topics such as how to reduce your risk and how to manage gestational diabetes with diet and exercise.

Questions To Ask Your Doctor

  • Im pregnant. Am I at risk for gestational diabetes?
  • Is screening for gestational diabetes a standard part of my prenatal care?
  • What tests do I need?
  • Does gestational diabetes put my baby at risk for any health problems?
  • Can I control gestational diabetes through lifestyle changes alone?
  • What changes should I make to my diet and exercise?
  • Will I need insulin? For how long?
  • What follow-up tests or care will I need after I deliver my baby?

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How Is Gestational Diabetes Managed After Pregnancy

Research has shown that women with gestational diabetes have a 3 to 7 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes within five to 10 years which is why its so important to make those healthy habits routine during pregnancy and keep a check on your health even after your pregnancy is over.

Here are a few ways to stay healthy after baby is born:

Signs And Symptoms Of Gestational Diabetes

5 EASY Tips for How To Manage YOUR Gestational Diabetes

Most pregnant women dont experience signs or symptoms of gestational diabetes. In fact, the only way to know is with a blood sugar test, typically given around 24 to 28 weeks gestation.

A few women may notice subtle signs and symptoms of gestational diabetes, including:

  • Increased thirst. Drinking more than normal and feeling like youre always thirsty may be a sign of gestational diabetes.
  • Fatigue. Pregnant women are tired, after all its a lot of work to grow and support a baby! However, gestational diabetes can make you feel even more tired than normal.
  • Dry mouth. A parched mouth despite drinking a lot can be another sign of gestational diabetes.

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The Difference Between Diabetes And Gestational Diabetes

Only pregnant women get gestational diabetes. When you are pregnant, your body goes through many changes that can make it difficult for your insulin to work properly. Your body cannot get the sugar out of your blood and into your cells to use for energy as well as it did before.

The placenta, a system of vessels that passes nutrients, blood, and water from mother to fetus, makes certain hormones that prevent insulin from working correctly. This is insulin resistance. Your body has to make three times its normal amount of insulin or more to overcome the hormones made by the placenta.

For most women, the bodys extra insulin is enough to keep their blood sugar levels in the healthy range. For about 5 percent of pregnant women, even the extra insulin is not enough to keep their blood sugar level normal. Testing for gestational diabetes is done between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy.

Treatment For Gestational Diabetes Improves Outcomes

The good news is that treatment for gestational diabetes improves outcomes. If you are diagnosed with GDM and you choose treatment , you are less likely to have a baby that weighs more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces or is large for gestational age. You are also less likely to experience shoulder dystocia.

There are still a great many things we dont know about treatments for GDM. There is very little research on potential long-term health benefits from treatment for mothers or babies. As far as safety, insulin does not cross the placenta, and thus is highly unlikely to cause any harm to the baby . On the other hand, oral antidiabetic medications do cross the placenta and there is limited information about the long-term effects of these medications on the baby. We dont know which combination lifestyle intervention is most effective, or which medications work best for individuals. For example, insulin is considered the preferred medication for women in pregnancy, but new evidence suggests that insulin may increase the risk of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy compared to oral medications for some individuals .

Mothers who require medication to manage their blood sugar levels also face additional fetal testing . There is no consensus on whether people with diet-controlled GDM should receive routine fetal testing. The specific type of testing and how often to test varies from provider to provider .

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Nearly 10 Percent Of Pregnancies In The Us Are Affected By Gestational Diabetes Every Year So Know That Youre Not Alone

And know that it doesnt mean that you had diabetes before you conceived or that you will have diabetes after you give birth. It means that, by working with your doctor, you can have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. No matter what, you have all the support you need for both you and your baby.

Gestational Diabetes And Pregnancy

Diabetes During Pregnancy: What is Gestational Diabetes?

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 managed through eating healthy foods and regular exercise. Sometimes a woman with gestational diabetes must also take insulin.

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If I Have Gestational Diabetes How Can I Stay Healthy After Pregnancy

There are things you can do to help prevent both gestational diabetes in future pregnancies and chronic diabetes later in life.

To stay healthy, you can:

  • Get more physical activity: Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 5 days per week can help prevent diabetes. Walk as much as you can. Even if you don’t lose weight, regular physical activity will make you healthier.
  • Make healthy food choices: Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Avoid sugary foods and drinks, including non-diet soda. Eat smaller portions.
  • Breast-feed your child: Breast-feeding will help you return to your pre-pregnancy weight, and breast-fed infants have lower rates of childhood obesity. Breast feeding also reduces the risk of a mother developing diabetes later on in life.
  • Lose weight: If you are overweight, losing even a few pounds can help you prevent diabetes.
  • Set healthy examples for your child: Offer healthy food choices and opportunities to be physically active. Discourage eating in front of the TV, and limit TV, video, and computer games that keep your child from moving.

    See Helping Children Reach a Healthy Weight: Proven Tips for Parents for more tips .

  • Have a regular doctor for you and your new baby. Tell your doctor about your diabetes during pregnancy. Plan a visit to your doctor right before you think about having another baby. If you dont have a doctor, for help getting one.

Why Do People Avoid The Glucose Screening Test

The first part of a glucose screening test is drinking a very sweet drink in a short amount of time, a task many pregnant women can find unpleasant due to pregnancy-related food aversions and nausea. One hour after drinking this liquid, blood is drawn for testing to determine how well your body processed the glucose solution. For many women, this is the end of the glucose testing experience. A higher-than-normal blood glucose reading one hour after drinking the solution means youll need to have a second, longer version of the test with more blood drawn for testing. This is to determine whether you have gestational diabetes, which occurs in up to 10% of pregnancies during the second or third trimester.

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What Can I Do To Make Living With Gestational Diabetes Easier

Make diabetes management part of your daily routine. Create a schedule and stick to it. Try to:

  • Check your blood glucose levels at the same time each day.
  • Choose three days each week to get 30 minutes of light exercise.
  • Plan small, balanced meals ahead of time.
  • Talk with your healthcare provider or a diabetes educator about other tips for daily diabetes management.

Related Conditions And Causes Of Gestational Diabetes

How Do You Know If You Have Gestational Diabetes

Many people may not realize that type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes are different kinds of diabetes.

As previously mentioned, gestational diabetes is caused by the effects of placental hormones and develops only in pregnant women who didn’t have diabetes before becoming pregnant.

Type 1 Diabetes is when the pancreas doesnt produce insulin or makes very little insulin. It is believed to be caused by an immune reaction and cant yet be prevented. Type 1 diabetes occurs most often in children, teens, and young adults and often starts quickly and has severe symptoms. People with type 1 diabetes need to use insulin daily.

Type 2 Diabetes comes on gradually, developing over many years. It can be prevented or delayed with lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, and eating a healthy diet. Type 2 diabetes mainly occurs in older adults, although kids, teenagers, and younger adults can develop it, as well.


Conditions that may increase the risk of gestational diabetes include obesity and PCOS.

ObesityPolycystic ovary syndrome Postpartum Depression Depression and Anxiety

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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.
  • How Can Gestational Diabetes Affect My Baby And Me

    High blood sugar levels can be unhealthy for both you and your baby. If the diabetes isnt treated, your baby may be more likely to have problems at birth. For example, your baby may have a low blood sugar level or jaundice. Or your baby may weigh much more than normal.

    Gestational diabetes can also affect your health. For instance, if your baby is very large, you may have a more difficult delivery. You may even need a cesarean section. Gestational diabetes also increases your risk of developing preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a condition that can be serious if left untreated.

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    Systematic Review And Meta

    This other recent study also looked at whether treatment for GDM improves the health of the mother and baby. It included 12 trials that compared bundles of care versus routine care. They found that bundles of care cut the risk of large birth weight by 50% and shoulder dystocia by 60%. They did not find a significant difference in the risk of pre-eclampsia, Cesarean, newborn intensive care, newborn low blood sugar, preterm birth, low Apgar scores, use of forceps/vacuum, or labor induction. In two of the trials, mothers reported higher quality of life after treatment for GDM.

    How You Can Treat It

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    The key is to act quickly. As treatable as it is, gestational diabetes can hurt you and your baby.

    Treatment aims to keep your blood glucose levels normal. It can include special meal plans and regular physical activity. It can also include daily blood glucose testing and insulin injections.

    We suggest the following target for women testing blood glucose levels during pregnancy:

    • Before a meal: 95 mg/dl or less
    • One hour after a meal: 140 mg/dl or less
    • Two hours after a meal: 120 mg/dl or less

    Always remember that this is treatableand working with your health care team can help ensure a healthy pregnancy.

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    If I Am Pregnant How Do I Know If I Have Gestational Diabetes

    Most doctors and midwives will screen women for gestational diabetes at 24-28 weeks. This screening involves taking a blood test for sugar before eating in the morning, then drinking 50-grams of a pure sugar drink, and having your sugar tested again. If the sugar level in the blood is high, this indicates that you need to be tested further for gestational diabetes.

    Learn more about pregnancy and baby care.

    What Problems Can Result From Gestational Diabetes

    In the Evidence Based Birth® Signature Article on Diagnosing GDM, we discuss the Hyperglycemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes study in detail. This study is the most important research that has ever been done on the link between maternal blood sugar and risk of poor birth outcomes . The key finding from the HAPO study was that the relationship between a mothers blood sugar levels and the risk of poor birth outcomes is continuous. This means that there is no specific cutoff for riskthe risk of poor outcomes increases step-by-step with every small increase in blood sugar levels, even at levels not considered to be GDM.

    The HAPO study and other studies have linked GDM to higher rates of:

    • The mother developing diabetes and/or heart disease later in life
    • The baby developing excess body weight and/or diabetes later in life

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    How Gestational Diabetes Can Affect Your Pregnancy

    Most women with gestational diabetes have otherwise normal pregnancies with healthy babies.

    However, gestational diabetes can cause problems such as:

    • your baby growing larger than usual this may lead to difficulties during the delivery and increases the likelihood of needing induced labour or a caesarean section
    • polyhydramnios too much amniotic fluid in the womb, which can cause premature labour or problems at delivery
    • premature birth giving birth before the 37th week of pregnancy
    • pre-eclampsia a condition that causes high blood pressure during pregnancy and can lead to pregnancy complications if not treated
    • your baby developing low blood sugar or yellowing of the skin and eyes after he or she is born, which may require treatment in hospital
    • the loss of your baby though this is rare

    Having gestational diabetes also means you’re at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.

    What Happens After My Baby Is Born

    Gestational Diabetes: What It Means For You &  For Your Baby

    If you have been injecting insulin to help manage gestational diabetes this usually stops once your baby is born. This is because womens blood glucose levels usually return to the optimal range quite quickly after their babys birth.

    Following the birth of your baby, it is important that your babys blood glucose levels are measured to check that their blood glucose is not too low. If it is, this can be treated by feeding your baby breast milk or formula. Breastfeeding is encouraged as this is best for you and your baby.

    Your blood glucose levels will be measured for a few days after your baby is born to make sure that they are within the recommended range. Glucose checking times are usually before breakfast and 2 hours after meals. An oral glucose tolerance test is done 6 to 12 weeks after the baby is born to check that your diabetes has gone away.

    During COVID-19, recommendations are to delay the OGTT testing for 6 months, if you are not able to social distance at the pathology centre or living in a high-risk area. It is recommended to have an OGTT before your baby is 12 months old or if planning another pregnancy. Be guided by your doctor.

    A baby whose mother had gestational diabetes will not be born with diabetes, but they may be at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

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    How Can I Prevent Gestational Diabetes

    There are no guarantees when it comes to prevention, but the more healthy habits you can adopt before pregnancy, the better. If youve had gestational diabetes, these healthy choices may also reduce your risk of having it again in future pregnancies or developing type 2 diabetes in the future.

    • Eat healthy foods Choose foods high in fiber and low in fat and calories. Focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Strive for variety to help you achieve your goals without compromising taste or nutrition. Watch portion sizes.
    • Keep active exercising before and during pregnancy can help protect you from developing gestational diabetes. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days of the week. Take a brisk daily walk. Ride your bike. Swim laps. Short bursts of activity such as parking further away from the store when you run errands or taking a short walk break all add up too.
    • Start pregnancy at a healthy weight if youre planning to get pregnant, losing extra weight beforehand may help you have a healthier pregnancy. Focus on making lasting changes to your eating habits that can help you through pregnancy, such as eating more vegetables and fruits.
    • Dont gain more weight than recommended gaining some weight during pregnancy is normal and healthy. But gaining too much weight too quickly can up your risk of gestational diabetes. Ask your doctor what a reasonable amount of weight gain is for you.

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