Diabetes is a medical condition that causes high blood sugar levels due to your body’s impaired ability to make insulin. Diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy is called gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes affects you and your baby, causing problems such as preterm labor and birth, difficult delivery, and poor health of your baby at birth. Your doctor's personalized treatment can prevent these complications. Many women with gestational diabetes have healthy pregnancies and births.
Our obstetrics experts provide unparalleled care for you and your baby during pregnancy, including the diagnosis and treatment of gestational diabetes. Find a Doctor conveniently close to you, and get the personal care you need for any maternal condition.
Gestational diabetes symptoms
In many cases, gestational diabetes causes no noticeable signs. For this reason, and because the disorder can cause serious health problems, doctors routinely screen for diabetes during pregnancy.
Screening is done with a blood test, usually collected between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. If your test shows higher-than-normal blood sugar levels, your doctor will order an additional test to confirm or rule out gestational diabetes.
Understanding gestational diabetes causes
Gestational diabetes is a result of your body’s inability to make enough insulin. During pregnancy, demand for insulin is higher, as your body has to produce enough for you and your baby.
You are more likely to get gestational diabetes if you have:
- History of gestational diabetes
- Family history of diabetes
- Previous birth of a baby weighing over nine pounds
- Prediabetes or polycystic ovary syndrome
- African American, Pacific Islander, Asian American, Native American, or Hispanic heritage
Gestational diabetes treatment
Treatment for gestational diabetes aims to keep your blood sugar levels within normal levels. With a well-regulated treatment plan, chances for a successful delivery of a healthy baby improve and risks of complications go down.
In some cases, an improved diet and more physical activity are all that is needed to return your blood sugar levels to normal. Your doctor, a diabetes educator, or a nutritionist can help you design a healthy eating plan for this purpose.
If diet and exercise are not enough, you may need medication to lower your blood sugar. Medication can be in the form of pills or injections of insulin. Your doctor can show you how to give yourself insulin shots and how to test your blood sugar level.
Gestational diabetes goes away after you give birth. However, women who have gestational diabetes are at a greater risk for developing diabetes later in life. Routine diabetes screenings should be part of your regular medical care.
You can lower your risk of gestational diabetes by exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight before pregnancy.
Dignity Health offers supportive care for gestational diabetes in Bakersfield, Merced, and Stockton, CA.