The Facts About Gestational Diabetes

American Diabetes Month takes place every November. Gestational diabetes affects more than 18 percent of pregnant women throughout the country. Though in most cases the condition is only temporary, it’s important to stay informed about the risk factors and life changes that need to happen if you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes, which usually begins around the 24th week of pregnancy, is caused by the placenta blocking the action of the insulin in a mother’s body. This causes glucose to build up in the blood at high levels, also known as hyperglycemia.

Testing for Diabetes During Pregnancy

All women must go through a glucose challenge screening test around the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy. During the test, a physician will ask you to drink a glucose solution. An hour later, a physician will draw blood and check to ensure you’re producing enough insulin. If tests prove you are producing enough insulin, no further tests are necessary. However, if the tests show that you do have gestational diabetes, you will need to be monitored and treated throughout your pregnancy. In addition to a positive glucose challenge screening test, women who experience gestational diabetes also have the following symptoms:

  • Blurred vision
  • Unusual thirst
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Frequent bladder infections
  • Frequent skin infections

Treatment for Gestational Diabetes

Diabetes during pregnancy is harmful to you and your baby, so treatment needs to start immediately. The American Diabetes Association suggests that women maintain the following glycemic levels:

  • 95 mg/dl or less before a meal
  • 140 mg/dl or less an hour after a meal
  • 120 mg/dl or less two hours after a meal

Physicians will also suggest keepinges close track of the following throughout the rest of the pregnancy:

  • Diet (specifically intake of carbohydrates and sugar)
  • Exercise
  • Insulin levels before and after meals