What do you really need to know about gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes may develop in women who don’t already have diabetes but are going through a pregnancy.

By Angela Chavez



Gestational diabetes may develop in women who don’t already have diabetes but are going through a pregnancy. Each year, around 2% to 10% of pregnant women in the country are affected by this disorder. Thankfully, gestational diabetes can be managed, ensuring that your pregnancy comes along smoothly along with a healthy baby.

What Is Gestational Diabetes?

This condition results in higher blood sugar levels during pregnancy and tends to affect only pregnant women who have never been diagnosed with diabetes. It comes in two forms — women in class A1 will be able to manage their condition through exercise and diet.

Those with class A2 gestational diabetes will need to take medication and insulin. The good news is that it will go away after birth, but it does have the chance to affect your baby’s health while raising your risk for type 2 diabetes in your later years.

What Causes Gestational Diabetes?

This disorder occurs when the body can’t produce enough insulin during pregnancy. Insulin is a hormone created in the pancreas which helps the body use glucose and helps to control glucose levels in the blood. Because the body creates more hormones and goes through various changes like gaining weight, it causes the use of insulin to become ineffective.

As a result, the body is unable to use insulin correctly which may lead to insulin resistance. While this happens to every pregnant woman, most will be able to produce enough insulin, but some may start their pregnancy with a higher need for insulin. These are women who are more likely to get gestational diabetes.

Risk Factors in Gestational Diabetes

A pregnant woman who can’t make enough insulin in the late stages of her pregnancy will be likely to develop gestational diabetes. Moreover, overweight or obese patients may also be connected to gestational diabetes. Overweight or obese women may already have high resistance to insulin at the start of their pregnancy, which makes them more susceptible to it.

Similarly, gaining a lot of weight during your pregnancy could also be a factor. Furthermore, having a history of diabetes in the family could make it more likely for you to develop gestational diabetes. This suggests that genetics may play a role, but these are the key factors that could determine the likelihood of getting gestational diabetes:

  • You were overweight before getting pregnant
  • Are Asian, African-American, Alaska Native, Hispanic, Native American, or Pacific Islander.
  • Have someone in the family with diabetes
  • You’ve had gestational diabetes before
  • You’ve had a miscarriage
  • You have prediabetes blood sugar levels (these are classified as being higher than they should be but not as high as required to have diabetes).
  • You have heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or other medical complications
  • You have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or a different health condition related to insulin problems
  • You have given birth to a stillborn baby or a baby with particular birth defects
  • You have given birth to a big baby that weighs over 9 pounds
  • You are older than 25

Gestational Diabetes Can Be Treated

Gestational diabetes can develop in pregnant women who have too much glucose in their system but can be diagnosed in the middle of their pregnancy through a few blood tests. It shouldn’t be left untreated because it can bring health complications for both the baby and the mother. Most women will be able to manage their condition with exercise and diet, while some will need medication. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider for ways to reduce your risk of diabetes during your pregnancy journey.

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