Gestational diabetes is diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. Diabetes causes blood sugar levels to be higher than normal. Gestational diabetes can lead to health problems for the mother and baby, including poor health for the baby at birth, difficult delivery, and preterm labor and birth. Most women who are treated for gestational diabetes have healthy pregnancies and births.
At Dignity Health, we want to make sure you and your family experience a happy and healthy pregnancy and birth.
What Causes Gestational Diabetes?
When you’re pregnant, your body needs more insulin than normal to help lower your blood sugar levels. Gestational diabetes develops when a woman’s body can’t make enough insulin to keep up with demand.
Many things can increase a woman's risk of gestational diabetes, including:
- Previous birth of a baby weighing more than nine pounds
- Personal history of prediabetes or gestational diabetes
- Family history of diabetes
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Being overweight
- Asian American, Native American, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, or African American heritage
Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes
High blood sugar is the main sign of gestational diabetes. However, most women with this condition have no noticeable symptoms.
Because gestational diabetes can cause serious complications and has few obvious symptoms, our doctors routinely screen for the condition between week 24 and 28 of pregnancy.
Treating Gestational Diabetes at Dignity Health
Doctors treat gestational diabetes to lower the the mother’s blood sugar levels and keep them within normal levels. Treatment increases the chances of a healthy pregnancy and delivery and reduces the risk of complications. You can help prevent gestational diabetes by getting regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight before and during your pregnancy.
For some women, changing their diet and exercising regularly can control blood sugar levels. Other women need to take medication by mouth or insulin injections. If you need insulin, your health care provider will show you how to give yourself insulin shots and how to test your blood sugar levels.
Gestational diabetes goes away after birth. However, women who have had gestational diabetes are at increased risk for diabetes later in life. Your Dignity Health doctor may may recommend regular screening for diabetes — talk to your doctor about their recommendations today.