Pregnancy - gestational diabetes; Prenatal care - gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes is high blood sugar (glucose) that starts during pregnancy. If you've been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, learn how to manage your blood sugar so that you and your baby stay healthy.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
Insulin is a hormone produced in an organ called the pancreas. The pancreas is below and behind the stomach. Insulin is needed to move blood sugar into the body's cells. Inside the cells, glucose is stored and later used for energy. Pregnancy hormones can block insulin from doing its job. When this happens, glucose level may increase in a pregnant woman's blood.
With gestational diabetes:
How is It Managed?
Becoming pregnant when you are at your ideal body weight can help lower your chance of getting gestational diabetes. If you are overweight, try to lose weight before pregnancy.
If you do develop gestational diabetes:
What are the Risks of Gestational Diabetes?
Women who follow their treatment plan and keep their blood sugar normal or close to normal during their pregnancy should have a good outcome.
Blood sugar that is too high raises the risks for:
Checking Your Blood Sugar
You can see how well you are doing by testing your blood sugar level at home. Your provider may ask you to check your blood sugar several times each day.
The most common way to check is by pricking your finger and drawing a drop of blood. Then, you place the blood drop in a monitor (testing machine) that measures your blood glucose. If the result is too high or too low, you will need to closely monitor your blood sugar level.
Your providers will follow your blood sugar level with you. Make sure you know what your blood sugar level should be.
Managing your blood sugar can seem like a lot of work. But many women are motivated by their desire to make sure both they and their baby have the best possible outcome.
Visits and Tests for You and Your Baby
Your provider will closely check both you and your baby throughout your pregnancy. This will include:
If you need insulin or oral medicine to control your blood sugar, you may need to have labor induced 1 or 2 weeks before your due date.
After Your Delivery
Women with gestational diabetes should be watched closely after giving birth. They should also continue to get checked at future clinic appointments for signs of diabetes.
High blood sugar levels often go back to normal after delivery. Still, many women with gestational diabetes develop diabetes within 5 to 10 years after giving birth. The risk is greater in obese women.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your provider for the following diabetes-related problems:
It's normal to feel stressed or down about being pregnant and having diabetes. But, if these emotions are overwhelming you, call your provider. Your health care team is there to help you.
American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Committee on Practice Bulletins--Obstetrics. Practice Bulletin No. 137: Gestational diabetes mellitus. Obstet Gynecol. 2013;122(2 Pt 1):406-416. PMID: 23969827 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23969827.
American Diabetes Association. 14. Management of diabetes in pregnancy: standards of medical care in diabetes - 2019. Diabetes Care. 2019;42 (Suppl 1):S165-S172. PMID: 30559240 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30559240.
Landon MB, Catalano PM, Gabbe SG. Diabetes mellitus complicating pregnancy. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, et al, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 40.
Metzger BE. Diabetes mellitus and pregnancy. In: Jameson JL, De Groot LJ, de Kretser DM, et al, eds. Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 45.
Review Date: 3/28/2019
Reviewed By: John D. Jacobson, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda Center for Fertility, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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