Pregnant women experiencing high blood sugar levels for the first time may have gestational diabetes. The good news about gestational diabetes is that it typically goes away after you deliver the baby. During pregnancy gestational diabetes can cause problems for both the mom-to-be and her baby. It may cause the baby to grow larger than normal causing problems during delivery. It may also cause the baby to experience low blood sugar levels. Pregnant women who encounter gestational diabetes can be treated during the pregnancy and when the blood sugar levels are controlled, they can give birth to healthy babies.
There may be long-term consequences of having had gestational diabetes during past pregnancies such as an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes later on in life. This risk can be minimized by maintaining a healthy weight, and by eating healthy foods and by making a point to exercise on a regular basis.
There are no symptoms of gestational diabetes so the pregnant women will only know she has the condition by being tested. A blood test is usually done between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. It is possible for a pregnant woman to be experiencing symptoms if she has had another type of diabetes that has gone undiagnosed. She may have symptoms such as increased thirst, increased urination, increased hunger or blurred vision. If she has noticed any of these symptoms she should notify her healthcare professional so her blood sugar levels can be monitored. Unfortunately the state of being pregnant will also cause a woman to urinate more frequently and to be hungrier than normal so it may be difficult to tell if these symptoms are due to being pregnant or may be an indication of diabetes so the only way to tell for sure is to have a blood test.
There are two blood tests used to diagnose gestational diabetes. The first test involves drinking a sweet liquid and then having your blood glucose level test an hour later, it is called OGTT, a 1-hour glucose challenge. If this test is abnormally high you will be asked to take the second test. The second test is called the 3-hour glucose test. If this test comes back as being abnormal your doctor will give you the diagnosis of gestational diabetes.
Pregnant women diagnosed with gestational diabetes will need to monitor blood sugar levels at home and control blood sugar levels with diet and exercise. They may need to give insulin shots to control the blood sugar levels. Healthcare professionals throughout the pregnancy will closely monitor the glucose levels and the impact on mom-to-be and baby.