For most pregnant women, there are no Gestational Diabetes Symptoms. In fact, it is possible to already have diabetes before you become pregnant and not even be aware of that. This is all the more reason to work with a health care practitioner who will ensure you have the proper testing and monitoring along your way to having a healthy, full-term infant.
What is Gestational Diabetes? Gestational Diabetes occurs when the first time you have high blood sugar is during your pregnancy. The placenta growing in your uterus produces chemicals that make it more difficult for insulin to do its work of keeping blood sugar levels in check. Usually, blood sugar levels return to normal after the birth of the baby. If left unchecked, gestational diabetes can lead to a baby growing too large and, ironically, born with low blood sugar. For the mother, careful monitoring of blood sugar levels during pregnancy may help prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes later on in life. One diabetic pregnancy increases the chance of gestational diabetes in further pregnancies.
Gestational Diabetes Levels: Blood tests during the 24th – 28th weeks of gestation will give a good indication of whether or not you are heading into diabetic levels. The standard test is to have a glucose drink and then have your blood tested in about an hour. If your glucose level falls within a range that has been determined to indicate diabetes, you may need further testing to confirm this result.
Diet for Gestational Diabetes: If you discover that you have gestational diabetes, the good news is that a healthy diet similar to that recommended for people with Type 2 diabetes will help you and your baby stay healthy. You will need to eat a variety of foods, and space your meals and snacks regularly throughout the day, to assist in keeping your blood sugar staple. Your health care practitioner can advise you on the total number of calories you require each day to meet your energy needs while keeping your weight within a healthy range.
Gestational Diabetes Screening: If you have diabetes before you become pregnant, you may be advised to try to achieve a lower than normal (for you) blood sugar target range. If you are not diabetic, blood work is usually done sometime during 24th and 28th weeks of gestation. If there is a family history of diabetes, this blood screening may be done earlier.