Understanding Gestational Diabetes
While you may be familiar with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes, there is a third type of diabetes that only affects pregnant women. Gestational diabetes develops when the hormones of the placenta trigger a buildup of excess sugar in the blood stream. If the body doesn’t accommodate for the extra sugar by producing more insulin to help break it down, blood sugar levels continue to rise. This is known as gestational diabetes, a condition that can cause serious risks for yourself and your baby without any noticeable symptoms.
The good news is that you’ll be given a routine test for gestational diabetes around 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy. The test involves drinking a super sugary drink and having your blood drawn to measure your blood glucose levels. If you are positive for this initial test, your doctor may order a fasting blood glucose test to get a more accurate diagnosis.
Gestational Diabetes Can Be Managed
While the dangers of untreated gestational diabetes include serious complications like preeclampsia, preterm labor and excessive birth weight, most women who are diagnosed in a timely manner go on to have completely healthy pregnancies and babies. However, gestational diabetes will mean that you must closely monitor your blood sugar levels and control your condition with stricter guidelines in diet and exercise. Some pregnant women are also given medications to control their high blood sugar levels. It is critically important that you listen to your physician and follow any instructions for monitoring your condition throughout your pregnancy.
Are You at Risk
Gestational diabetes can happen to any woman during pregnancy. However, those who have the following are at a higher risk:
• Family history of diabetes
• Gestational diabetes in previous pregnancy
• Overweight prior to pregnancy
• African-American, Asian, Hispanic, or Native American
• Over the age of 30
• Previous birth of baby weighing over 9.5 lbs
If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy, it does not mean that you will always suffer from diabetes. In fact, most women find that their blood sugar issues dissipate on their own after delivery. Your doctor may want to test your blood sugar during your postpartum period to confirm the gestational diabetes is resolved.
For more questions about glucose tolerance tests during pregnancy or what it means to have gestational diabetes, please contact our team at North Pointe OB/GYN in Cumming.