What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes causes higher-than-normal blood sugar. It occurs only during pregnancy, and it usually goes away once you’ve delivered your baby.
Women with gestational diabetes have higher-than-normal blood sugar because their bodies become resistant to insulin. The hormone insulin regulates blood sugar.
Gestational diabetes can happen at almost any time during pregnancy, but it typically occurs between 24 to 28 weeks. This is also when testing typically takes place.
Getting tested for gestational diabetes is an important part of prenatal care. All pregnant women are tested at least once during pregnancy. Your doctor will consider your risk factors to determine when you should have this test and how often you should have it.
Learn what to expect during this test and how to prepare.
You should call your doctor if you’re experiencing these symptoms to a greater degree than is normal for you.
- having obesity
- being more than 25 years old
- having a family history of diabetes
- having a history of gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy
- gaining a significant amount of weight in early adulthood and between pregnancies
- gaining an excessive amount of weight while pregnant
- being pregnant with multiples, such as twins or triplets
- having a previous delivery of a baby who weighted more than 9 pounds
- having high blood pressure
- having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- taking glucocorticoids
Glucose challenge test
You don’t need to do anything to prepare for this test. You can eat and drink normally beforehand. When you arrive at your doctor’s office, you’ll drink a syrupy solution that contains glucose. One hour later, you’ll take a blood test. If your blood sugar is high, your doctor will schedule a glucose tolerance test.
Glucose tolerance test
This test measures your body’s response to glucose. It’s used to determine how well your body handles glucose after a meal. Your doctor will ask you to fast overnight to prepare for this test. Ask your doctor if you can sip water during this time. You should remind your doctor of any medications you’re taking and ask if you should stop them during this time. The test is then performed as follows:
- After arriving at your doctor’s office, your doctor measures your fasting blood sugar.
- Afterward, you drink an 8-ounce glass of glucose solution.
- Your doctor measures your glucose levels once per hour for the next three hours.
- high blood pressure, also known as preeclampsia
- premature birth
- shoulder dystocia, which occurs when the baby’s shoulders to get stuck in the birth canal during delivery
- slightly higher rates of fetal and neonatal death
Untreated gestational diabetes can also result in the baby having a high birth weight. This is called macrosomia. Macrosomia may result in shoulder damage during birth and can require a cesarean delivery. Babies with macrosomia have a higher likelihood of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes.
- losing weight before pregnancy
- setting a goal for pregnancy weight gain
- eating high-fiber, low-fat foods
- reducing the size of your food portions
You should incorporate the following into your diet:
- whole grains, such as quinoa
- lean protein, such as tofu, chicken, and fish
- low-fat dairy
Simple, refined carbohydrates, found in sugary desserts and soda, tend to spike blood sugar. You should limit those types of foods in your diet.
Walking, swimming, and prenatal yoga can be great options for exercise. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen.