Gestational diabetes and its effect on pregnancy

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes only happens during pregnancy. It means you have high blood sugar levels, but those levels were normal before you were pregnant. If you have it, you can still have a healthy baby with help from your doctor and by doing simple things to manage your blood sugar, also called blood glucose. After your baby is born, gestational diabetes usually goes away. Gestational diabetes makes you more likely to develop type 2 diabetes in future, but it won’t definitely happen.

Gestational diabetes usually happens in the second half of pregnancy. Your doctor will check to see if you have gestational diabetes between weeks 24 and 28 of your pregnancy. Your doctor may test sooner if you’re at high risk. To test for gestational diabetes, you will quickly drink a sugary drink. This will raise your blood sugar levels. An hour later, you’ll take a blood test to see how your body handled all that sugar. If the results show that your blood sugar is higher than a certain cut-off (anywhere from 130 milligrams per deciliter [mg/dL] or higher), you will need more tests. This means testing your blood sugar while fasting and a longer glucose test that will be done over a 3-hour period.

If your results are normal but you have a high risk of getting gestational diabetes, you may need a follow-up test later in your pregnancy to make sure you still don’t have it.

Gestational Diabetes Symptoms

Women with gestational diabetes usually have no symptoms. Most learn they have it during routine pregnancy screening tests.

Rarely, especially if the gestational is out of control, you may notice:

  • Feeling more thirsty
  • Feeling more hungry and eating more
  • A need to pee more

Gestational diabetes

Causes Of gestational diabetes

Your body digests the food you eat to produce sugar (glucose) that enters your bloodstream. In response, your pancreas — a large gland behind your stomach — produces insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose move from your bloodstream into your body’s cells, where it’s used as energy.

During pregnancy, the placenta, which connects your baby to your blood supply, the placenta makes hormones that can lead to a build-up of glucose in your blood. Usually, your pancreas can make enough insulin to handle that. If not, your blood sugar levels will rise and can cause gestational diabetes.

As your baby grows, the placenta produces more and more insulin-counteracting hormones. In gestational diabetes, the placental hormones provoke a rise in blood sugar to a level that can affect the growth and welfare of your baby.

Gestational diabetes affects on pregnancy

Most women with gestational diabetes who can keep their glucose levels in check go on to have a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby. But having gestational diabetes makes you and your baby more likely to develop certain complications. If you have gestational diabetes, you’re more likely to go into labor early (preterm labor). Babies who are born early are more likely to have health problems and may also need extra care after birth. You may also have a higher risk of high blood pressure or preeclampsia.

These conditions make preterm labor more likely and can cause health problems for you and your baby. Babies of women with gestational diabetes are more likely to be bigger than average (macrosomia). Large babies can get stuck in the birth canal while being born (shoulder dystocia), which can injure nerves in the neck and shoulder (brachial plexus injury). Large babies are more likely to be, delivered by C-section. Your baby may also have low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) after birth and trouble breathing (respiratory distress. Dietary changes and exercise may be enough to keep blood sugar (glucose) levels under control, though sometimes you may also need to take medication.

untreated gestational diabetes:

But, untreated gestational diabetes can cause serious problems. If blood sugar levels remain elevated, too much glucose ends up in the baby’s blood. When that happens, the baby’s pancreas needs to produce more insulin to process the extra sugar. Too much blood sugar and insulin can make a baby put on extra weight, which is, stored as fat. This can make the baby grow very large (macrosomia). Also, high blood sugar levels during pregnancy and labor increase the risk of a baby developing low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) after delivery. That’s because the baby’s body produces extra insulin in response to the mother’s excess glucose. Insulin lowers the amount of sugar in the blood.


A baby may also be at higher risk for breathing problems at birth, especially if blood sugar levels aren’t well controlled or the baby is delivered early. (If you have gestational diabetes, your baby’s lungs tend to mature a bit later). The risk of newborn jaundice is higher too.

If your blood sugar control is especially poor, the baby’s heart function could be affected as well, which can contribute to breathing problems. Gestational diabetes sometimes thickens a baby’s heart muscle (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy), causing the baby to breathe rapidly and not be able to get enough oxygen from her blood.

It’s understandable to feel anxious about how gestational diabetes might affect your baby’s health. The good news is that if your blood sugar is well managed, either through diet or medication (or both), your baby is much less likely to have any problems.


You have gestational diabetes, you’ll need to get your blood sugar under control, and keep it that way, to protect your health and your baby’s. You’ll have to make some lifestyle changes for that to happen.

It’s worth remembering that the changes you’re being, asked to make will be good for your general health in the long term as well as helping you manage your condition now. Regular, moderate exercise and diet control during pregnancy helps your body use insulin better and helps control your blood sugar level. An important part of treating gestational diabetes is checking your blood sugar level at home.

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