Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar (diabetes) that starts or is first diagnosed during pregnancy.
Glucose intolerance during pregnancy
Risk factors for gestational diabetes include:
Usually there are no symptoms, or the symptoms are mild and not life threatening to the pregnant woman. Often, the blood sugar (glucose) level returns to normal after delivery.
Symptoms may include:
Gestational diabetes may not cause symptoms. All pregnant women should receive an oral glucose tolerance test between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy to screen for the condition.
The goals of treatment are to keep blood sugar (glucose) levels within normal limits during the pregnancy, and to make sure that the fetus is healthy.
WATCHING YOUR BABY
Your health care provider should closely check both you and your fetus throughout the pregnancy. Fetal monitoring to check the size and health of the fetus often includes ultrasound and nonstress tests.
DIET AND EXERCISE
Managing your diet can give you the calories and nutrients you need for your pregnancy, control your blood sugar (glucose) levels, and avoid the need to take medications. Regular exercise also can help keep your blood sugar under better control.
Eating a balanced diet is a key part of any pregnancy. The food you eat helps your baby grow and develop inside of you. Because every pregnancy is different, your doctor and dietitian will create a diet just for you.
For details on what you should eat, see: Diabetes diet
If managing your diet does not control blood sugar (glucose) levels, you may be prescribed diabetes medicine by mouth or insulin therapy. You will need to monitor your blood sugar (glucose) levels during treatment.
Pregnant women with gestational diabetes tend to have larger babies at birth. This can increase the chance of problems at the time of delivery, including:
Your baby is more likely to have periods of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) during the first few days of life.
Mothers with gestational diabetes have an increased risk for high blood pressure during pregnancy.
There is a slightly increased risk of the baby dying when the mother has untreated gestational diabetes. Controlling blood sugar levels reduces this risk.
High blood sugar (glucose) levels often go back to normal after delivery. However, women with gestational diabetes should be watched closely after giving birth and at regular doctor's appointments to screen for signs of diabetes. Many women with gestational diabetes develop diabetes within 5 - 10 years after delivery. The risk may be increased in obese women.
Call your health care provider if you are pregnant and you have symptoms of diabetes.
Beginning prenatal care early and regular prenatal visits helps improve the health of you and your baby. Knowing the risk factors for gestational diabetes and having prenatal screening at 24 - 28 weeks into the pregnancy will help detect gestational diabetes early.
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