Some women get this kind of diabetes when they are pregnant. Most of the time, it goes away after the baby is born. But even if it goes away, these women and their children have a greater chance of getting diabetes later in life. Managing gestational diabetes will help make sure you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
Symptoms & Getting Tested
Gestational diabetes typically doesn’t have any symptoms. If you are getting prenatal care, your health care provider will test you for this. It’s important to be tested so you can begin treatment to protect your health and your baby’s health. Gestational diabetes usually develops around the 24th week of pregnancy, so you’ll probably be tested between 24 and 28 weeks. If you’re at higher risk for gestational diabetes, your doctor may test you earlier. Blood sugar that’s higher than normal early in your pregnancy may indicate you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes rather than gestational diabetes.
Weight Gain During Pregnancy & Gestational Diabetes
If you’re pregnant, you know you are supposed to gain weight. How much you should gain is different for everyone. Gain too many pounds and you have a greater chance of getting gestational diabetes and other pregnancy complications. Talk to your healthcare provider about the right amount of weight gain for you.
General guidelines for weight gain:
- If you are at a healthy weight before pregnancy with a BMI between 18.5-24.9, you can gain 25-35 pounds.
- If you are overweight before pregnancy with a BMI between 25-29,9, you can gain 15-25 pounds.
- If you are obese before pregnancy with a BMI of 30 or more, you can gain 11-20 pounds.
- If you are underweight before pregnancy with a BMI less than 18.5, you can gain 28-40 pounds.
Managing Gestational Diabetes
- You will need more frequent prenatal care visits to monitor your health and your fetus’s health.
- You will need to track your blood sugar and do things to keep it under control. Doing so will reduce the risks to both you and your fetus.
- For many women, a healthy diet and regular exercise will control blood sugar.
- Some women may need medications to help reach normal blood sugar levels even with diet changes and exercise.
Having gestational diabetes can increase your risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy. It can also increase your risk of having a large baby that needs to be delivered by cesarean section (C-section).
If you have gestational diabetes, your baby is at higher risk of:
- Being very large (9 pounds or more), which can make delivery more difficult
- Being born early, which can cause breathing and other problems
- Having low blood sugar
- Developing type 2 diabetes later in life
Greater Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes
Gestational diabetes usually goes away after your baby is born. However, about 50% of women with gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes. You can lower your risk by reaching a healthy body weight after delivery. Visit your doctor to have your blood sugar tested 6 to 12 weeks after your baby is born and then every 1 to 3 years to make sure your levels are on target.
Before you get pregnant, you may be able to prevent gestational diabetes by losing weight if you’re overweight and getting regular physical activity. Don’t try to lose weight if you’re already pregnant. You’ll need to gain some weight—but not too quickly—for your baby to be healthy. Talk to your doctor about how much weight you should gain for a healthy pregnancy.