Diabetes is a chronic disease that develops when your blood sugar (blood glucose) levels are too high. If you are pregnant, you can develop gestational diabetes (gestational means the time when you are pregnant). About 7 in 100 pregnant women will get gestational diabetes. Even though it usually goes away once a woman is no longer pregnant, high blood sugar levels are not good for you or your growing baby. Having gestational diabetes when pregnant can raise both the mother and baby’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Gestational Diabetes usually starts by the 24th week of pregnancy, which is near the end of the second trimester. Depending on your risk factors, your doctor may test you earlier than your 24th week.
You may be at a higher risk for developing gestational diabetes if you:
- Have had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
- Have a family history of type-2 diabetes
- Are overweight
- Are older than 25
- Have PCOS (Poly-cystic Ovary Syndrome), a hormone disorder
- Are African American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latina, or Pacific Islander American
What are the symptoms of gestational diabetes?
- Gestational diabetes usually does not have many clear symptoms. Refer to information about testing below and talk to your Community Health Worker (CHW) or doctor/Certified Nurse Midwife if you think you might have gestational diabetes.
How can I find Out If I have gestational diabetes?
- Your provider will test you with a blood test
- Depending on your results of the first test, you will either have one or two tests done
1) All women screened for gestational diabetes will first do a Glucose Screening Test, which measures your blood sugar. You will drink a liquid that contains glucose. After one hour, your blood will be drawn to check the blood sugar levels. If the levels are higher than 140 mg/dL, you will take the second test.
2) If the levels are higher than 140 mg/dL, you will take a Glucose Tolerance Test. The night before your test, you will fast (not eat anything). In the morning, your blood will be drawn to test your blood sugar levels. Then, you will drink the glucose-containing liquid. After 1 hour, 2 hours, and maybe even 3 hours, your blood will be drawn to check your blood glucose levels.
How can I prevent gestational diabetes?
- Eating healthy and exercising regularly can help prevent gestational diabetes
- You should not be losing weight while pregnant. You should gain weight slowly to help your baby grow.
How do I manage gestational diabetes?
- Regularly checking blood sugar levels throughout your pregnancy
- Eating healthy foods and exercising according to the advice of your healthcare provider
- Relying on your network, including your CHW, your prenatal care group, and your community to help provide support and reduce stress