Gestational diabetes is diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. Diabetes is a condition that results in high blood sugar (glucose) caused by the pregnancy. Insulin is a hormone that helps lower the glucose in the bloodstream by moving it inside of cells, where they
use it for fuel. During pregnancy, the body becomes more resistant to the effects of insulin to help ensure there is enough glucose in the blood stream for the baby. In some women, this insulin resistance is more pronounced, resulting in higher-than-normal blood sugars during pregnancy.
Risk factors for gestational diabetes include: overweight/obesity, history of an infant weighing over 9 lbs at birth, race (African-American, Asian, Hispanic/Latina) or family history of diabetes/gestational diabetes.
After your sixth month, your doctor will perform a screen for gestational diabetes, called the one-hour glucose tolerance test. A glucose drink is given and the blood sugar level is tested exactly one hour from the time the drink is finished. If the test is abnormal, a second test is performed which is more accurate at testing for gestational diabetes.
If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you will receive diabetes education from a nutritionist about how to check blood sugars and changing your diet to lower your blood sugar. In some cases, medication to control your blood sugar may be required. It is important to maintain good control of your blood sugars during pregnancy to avoid complications. Women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes are at increased risk for very large infants, c-section, blood pressure problems during pregnancy and problems with the baby requiring an ICU stay (such as breathing problems, jaundice or low blood sugar).