If you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant you may be concerned about gestational diabetes. Read on to learn how to reduce your risk.
You learn about all kinds of new things when you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Baby gear, breastfeeding, ultrasounds, and more. One of the topics that you may learn more about and be on the lookout for is gestational diabetes.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that pregnant women can get when their body is not making enough insulin or they develop insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that helps your body convert food into energy.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes?
Many times, there are no signs or symptoms of gestational diabetes. If you do have symptoms, it may be as simple as fatigue, and excessive hunger and thirst. These symptoms could be present even if you don’t have gestational diabetes and are pregnant. That’s why gestational diabetes screening is necessary.
How Do You Get Screened for Gestational Diabetes?
The screening for gestational diabetes is called an oral glucose tolerance test. Your doctor will have you screened between 24 and 28 weeks. The screening consists of two main steps.
- Drink a sweetened liquid that is provided to you by the test facility. The sweetened drink will need to be consumed within a certain amount of time which the facility will inform you of.
- You will then have you wait for an hour at the facility and then they will draw your blood.
If your blood shows that your glucose is too high your doctor may have you go back to the facility to have a 3-hour glucose tolerance test. This includes 6 main steps.
- Not eating or drinking anything for 8 to 12 hours before the test
- You will have your blood drawn
- Then drink a sweetened liquid that is provided to you from the test facility. The sweetened drink will need to be consumed within a certain amount of time which the facility will inform you of.
- You will wait at the facility for one hour and then have your blood drawn
- You will then wait another hour and have your blood drawn again
- You will then wait another hour and have your blood drawn once again
Your healthcare provider will assess your bloodwork results and determine if you have gestational diabetes.
What Are the Risk Factors of Gestational Diabetes?
You are more likely to develop gestational diabetes if you meet one or more of the following:
- Older than 35 years
- Body mass index over 30
- Family history of type 2 diabetes
- Had gestational diabetes previously
- Previously has a baby that weighed over 9 pounds1
What Are the Risks of Having Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes can be harmful to the mother and the baby. Possible risks of having gestational diabetes include:
- Greater risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy
- Greater risk of having a large baby that required a C-section birth
- Preterm birth and possible developmental concerns
- Baby having low blood sugar levels
- Baby developing type 2 diabetes later in life
- Mother developing type 2 diabetes after pregnancy1
How Can I Reduce the Risk of Gestational Diabetes?
There are two main things you can do to help reduce the risk of gestational diabetes before, during, and after pregnancy.
Make sure you are getting enough exercise. It could be as simple as walking. Watch what you eat and focus on making healthier food choices. Eat more unprocessed whole foods. Making these small changes and following through with them before, during, and after pregnancy will aid in reducing your risk of gestational diabetes.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, August 10). Gestational diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved April 22, 2022
- Team, W. H. (2022, September 30). How to prevent or manage gestational diabetes. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved September 30, 2022
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