Gestational Diabetes: What You Need To Know

Among many tests you have during your pregnancy, one test that is done at around 24 to 28 week mark is the glucola test.  This test tests your blood sugar. You will go into your doctors office and be given a very sugary glucose drink that you will have five minutes to drink.  After your five minutes you will then wait one hour and have your blood drawn. Once that is all done your test is complete. Your doctor will call you back with your levels and as long as you aren’t above a certain number on a scale you are good to go.  Your body is managing the extra glucose production for your baby and you don’t need to worry about this test at all. If you are above a certain number though you will usually have to go back in to the doctor for a three hour test. This usually requires you to fast for eight hours before you come into the office.  Once in the office your blood will be taken as a baseline, then you will be given the same sugary drink once more to drink in five minutes. After that your blood will be taken three times over the next three hours. After you have completed all the blood draws you will wait for your doctor to call you in the next day or two to give you the results.  If your levels are high again than you will have what is called Gestational Diabetes. 

Gestational diabetes is very common in pregnancies, there are more than 200,000 cases per year.  Gestational diabetes is when your blood sugar is high during pregnancy. You can only have gestational diabetes if your pregnant and it usually goes away after delivery.  As stated above the way that gestational diabetes is diagnosed is by the glucose drink with then a blood draw to follow an hour after. The reason that many people who don’t have high blood sugar before pregnancy than develops this while pregnant is because the placenta makes hormones that can lead to a buildup of glucose in the blood, and if your body cannot handle the build up the result is high blood sugar.  


Risk Factors


There are risk factors to getting gestational diabetes.  You may be more susceptible to getting if you are overweight before your pregnancy.  Another risk factors are if you have high blood sugar levels but aren’t high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes.  Following those same lines if you have a family history of diabetes you may be at a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes.  Other factors can be if you have had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy, if you have high blood pressure, if you are older than twenty-five, or have given birth to a baby bigger than 9lbs in the past.




There are few symptoms that go along with gestational diabetes.  The problem with these symptoms is that they are also just very common pregnancy symptoms.  You may experience the feeling of being extra thirsty, the need to urinate more, and feeling hungrier and eating more frequently.  The sad news is that none of these makes you have a red flag to think that anything is weird about feeling any of these, these symptoms seem to go hand in hand with just normal pregnancy.  Just because you are experiencing some of these symptoms does not mean you will have gestational diabetes, the main thing to do is to have the glucose drink test done and a blood draw instead of just going on symptoms along. 


Manage & Treat


Gestational diabetes is treatable.  Treatment may include checking your blood sugar levels throughout the day, sometimes once or twice but could be multiple times a day.  Other treatment your doctor may want to do is urine checks on you each time you come into the office. If your levels are extremely high and not being managed by healthier diet and exercise your doctor may put you on insulin.  This is only in severe cases. Most of the time your doctor will talk to you about diet changes and to make sure you get good exercise.  

If you end up having Gestational diabetes and you are told to make some diet changes your doctor will go through the things to make sure are in your diet and what to cut out.  You will want to try and follow a low sugar diet. To get sugar, make sure it is natural sugars, like from fruits, not processed foods. Make sure to eat a diet high in vegetables, and whole grains.  Obviously try to stay away from the high fat processed foods. Another good tip is to watch your portion size on anything. Everything in moderation. This is not a time thought to count calories, or to try and not eat.  Make sure you are getting enough nutrients, this is not a diet to lose weight, this is a healthy diet change to keep your blood sugars low. Make sure you get enough dairy as well that is key to your baby’s growth, if you like yogurt just steer clear of yogurts with sugars added.  

Another thing to help manage your Gestational diabetes is to exercise.  If you are overweight before pregnancy your doctor may encourage you to lose weight before becoming pregnant, otherwise you will be at a higher risk of getting Gestational diabetes.  Make sure while pregnant you exercise throughout your pregnancy. This is hard especially if you are feeling tired at the beginning of the pregnancy or near the end. You can do mild exercises.  Prenatal yoga or stretching, low impact walking, or swimming. Shoot for exercising at least thirty minutes a day if you can, it will help with aches and pains you may be feeling as well.  




If you have Gestational diabetes it can affect the mother more than just your blood sugars being high.  It can lead to having a higher chance of a C-section. It can raise the mother’s blood pressure and cause preeclampsia.  If you have Gestational diabetes it can lead to diabetes in any future pregnancies, or even to just diabetes later in life.  

Not only does it affect the mother, but it can also have some effects on the baby as well.  Gestational diabetes can lead to high birth weight. It can cause preterm birth. Also it can cause the baby to have low blood sugar when born.  It can cause the child to have a higher risk of developing diabetes later in life. In some cases it can cause respiratory distress syndrome.  



Gestational diabetes not only affects the mother but can affect the baby as well.  Make sure you get tested for it at the appropriate time during your pregnancy. Ask questions with your doctor if you have any concerns if you end up having Gestational diabetes.  It is very common and a very manageable condition to be able to handle.  

…the placenta makes hormones that can lead to a buildup of glucose in the blood, and if your body cannot handle the build up the result is high blood sugar.  



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