All expecting mothers will be tested for gestational diabetes at some point during their pregnancy. Expecting mothers who are over the age of 35, over weight, or have a family history of diabetes may be tested earlier and more frequently.
Gestational diabetes is a temporary form (in most cases) of diabetes in which the body does not produce adequate amounts of insulin to deal with sugar during pregnancy. It may also be called glucose intolerance or carbohydrate intolerance. Signs and symptoms can include:
Approximately 2-5 % of all expecting mothers will develop gestational diabetes with this number possibly increasing to 7-9 % in populations where mothers are more likely to have risk factors. The screening for this disease usually will take place sometime between your 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. Doctors test for gestational diabetes during this time because the placenta is producing large amounts of hormones that may cause insulin resistance. If the result comes back with elevated levels, further testing would be done to confirm a diagnosis of gestational diabetes.
During your prenatal visit your doctor will give you a sweet liquid (sweet does not necessarily mean good!) to drink one hour before your blood is drawn. It may cause you to feel a bit nauseous. The results will indicate if you are producing enough insulin or not.
The biggest part of treating gestational diabetes is controlling your blood sugar levels. There are things you and your doctor can do in order to control your levels and keep them at a safe and normal amount:
If gestational diabetes is diagnosed and treated effectively, there is little risk of complications. If gestational diabetes is not treated, effects for mother and baby can include:
With proper care and treatment, women with gestational diabetes can have healthy babies and the diabetes should disappear after delivery.
It is important that you watch for any continuing signs that you may still be diabetic after giving birth. These symptoms include:
Testing may occur a few months after the delivery to make sure your blood sugar levels have returned back to normal.
Reprinted with permission from American Pregnancy Association