Gestational Diabetes in Pregnancy

What is gestational diabetes? Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that affects a pregnant woman who has does not have diabetes when she is not pregnant. The womans body is not able to produce the right amounts of insulin to process the sugars in her body.

In a routine exam and battery of tests, often done during or about the 28th week of pregnancies (or if your doctor suspects you might have gestational diabetes), the doctor will use a “glucose tolerance test”. The woman will go to a laboratory and have a fasting blood draw. Then she will be asked to drink a glucose solution and wait a set amount of time. After this amount of time she will again have a blood draw and then again after another specific amount of time they will again draw her blood. Sometimes there is one more blood draw and then the results of the samples will be compared.

The glucose tolerance tests compares the different levels of sugars in the blood and how the body is processing them. If they remain high, perhaps the body is not processing them normally and the woman is considered to have gestational diabetes.

Since gestational diabetes may be mild to severe there are several treatment options available. If you have mild gestational diabetes, you will be shown how to test your blood and talk with a nutritionist regarding proper diet. You will be taught to limit your sugars and other foods that may trigger a reaction. If you have a more severe case you may be required to take insulin either in pill or injectable format.

You will also be given instructions on proper exercise and what to do if you just couldn’t resist that piece of cake.

The complications of gestational diabetes may include a very large baby (over 9 pounds 14 ounces), a jaundiced baby or, in rare instances, a still birth. With proper medical intervention and the appropriate dietary and if needed insulin, your baby should be fine. The doctors will monitor your baby via ultra sounds and fetal monitors and if need be adjustments will be made to your medications or if you are far enough along, labor can be induced.

There is a 75 percent chance that the woman will develop gestational diabetes in future pregnancies. Also, the woman will be at higher risk for diabetes when she gets older. In our family we have also observed that the children born to a gestational diabetes mother have had a higher risk for diabetes. Though this is controversial with some doctors others consider this a higher risk factor for children born to a diabetic mother. Of course, the fact that several other family members are diabetic must also be taken into consideration.

Diabetes is a disease that has been around for a very long time and chances are you know someone who has it and you are unaware of it. With proper medical treatment, and dietary changes, diabetics can live a long and healthy life.