WHMC Blog

What Is Gestational Diabetes?

Pregnant women face health concerns that most people never consider. One of these conditions is known as gestational diabetes. It is a specific form of diabetes limited to pregnant women, and it is one of the most common pregnancy health problems a woman can have. According to a CDC report, up to 10% of pregnant women deal with gestational diabetes.

During pregnancy, the body releases hormones that aid with the growth and development of your child. While these hormones are beneficial to your child, some of them can make your blood more insulin-resistant. Insulin is the hormone that retrieves sugar from your bloodstream and turns it into energy. Without insulin, the blood becomes saturated with sugar, leading to gestational diabetes.

When Does Gestational Diabetes Develop?

Gestational diabetes usually shows up in the later stages of pregnancy, after your baby’s body has developed. As a result, it rarely ever results in birth defects. However, without treatment, it can lead to long-term health problems for your baby, including obesity and a higher likelihood of developing type-2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes can also result in long-term effects for the mother. Usually, gestational diabetes will go away on its own shortly after giving birth. However, once a mother has had it, she is much more likely to have it again during another pregnancy. In addition, she is more likely to develop type-2 diabetes later in life.

What Are the Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes?

This condition has no symptoms—that’s why it is important to get diabetic screening and urine tests periodically during your pregnancy. Your physician will likely test you for gestational diabetes 24 weeks into your pregnancy. The test will check your blood sugar levels. If your levels are too high, your insulin resistance will also be tested.

Signs that you are at a high risk for gestational diabetes include:

  • High blood pressure
  • A BMI in excess of 30
  • A family history of diabetes
  • Gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
  • Previously giving birth to a baby in excess of 8.8125 pounds

If any of these risk apply to you, be sure to let your doctor know that you would like to take precautions to prevent gestational diabetes. While many women have had this condition without harming themselves or their baby, being as healthy as possible can prevent other, more severe complications.

This article contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis of a physician.

If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.