Gestational Diabetes: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

What is gestational diabetes?

Blood sugar levels can rise during pregnancy for some women. In medical terms, gestational diabetes (GDM) or gestational diabetes mellitus is known. In most pregnancy cases, gestational diabetes develops between weeks 24 and 28.

It is estimated to occur in 2 to 10 percent of pregnancies in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

You do not have diabetes before you become pregnant nor will you develop it afterward if you develop gestational diabetes. You will, however, be more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life if you have gestational diabetes.

The disorder can increase the risk of diabetes for your child and more complications during pregnancy and delivery for you and your child if it is not managed properly.

What symptoms are associated with gestational diabetes?

In most cases, gestational diabetes does not cause symptoms. There is a good chance you will only experience mild symptoms. Among them are:

  • tiredness
  • blurry vision
  • excessive thirst
  • frequent urination
  • snoring

Causes of gestational diabetes

Causes of gestational diabetes
Causes of gestational diabetes

Diabetes during pregnancy is unknown, but hormones are likely to be involved. You produce a higher amount of certain hormones when you’re pregnant, such as:

  • human placental lactogen (hPL)
  • hormones that increase resistance to insulin

During pregnancy, these hormones affect your placenta and help keep you pregnant. Your body produces these hormones over time. As a result, your body becomes less sensitive to insulin, which is responsible for regulating blood sugar.

Your cells can use glucose for energy when you use insulin to move it out of your blood and into them. As a result of natural insulin resistance during pregnancy, more glucose can pass through the bloodstream to the baby. If insulin resistance becomes too strong, your blood glucose level may be abnormal. Diabetes may result in gestational diabetes.

Related: Mirror Syndrome During Pregnancy: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

What are the risk factors for gestational diabetes?

It’s more likely that you will develop gestational diabetes if:

  • More than 25 years old
  • If you suffer from high blood pressure
  • Diabetes runs in the family
  • You were overweight before you got pregnant
  • During pregnancy, you gain more weight than usual
  • Twins are expected
  • Born a baby weighing over 9 pounds previously
  • Previously suffered from gestational diabetes
  • Miscarriages or stillbirths that are unexplained
  • Glucocorticoids have been administered
  • Acanthosis nigricans, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or other diabetes conditions occur in those who are insulin resistant
  • In addition to being African, Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander, or Hispanic

What is the diagnosis of gestational diabetes?

diagnosis of gestational diabetes

Pregnant women should be routinely checked for possible gestational diabetes by their doctors, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends. You are likely to be tested for gestational diabetes when you are 24 to 28 weeks pregnant if you don’t have a history of diabetes and have normal blood sugar levels.

Read Also: Is It Safe to Eat Ice Cream During Pregnancy?

Glucose challenge test

A glucose challenge test may be ordered by some doctors. This test does not require any preparation.

An oral glucose solution will be given to you. Your blood will be tested after an hour. An oral glucose tolerance test may be performed by your doctor if your blood sugar level is high. Two steps are involved in this test.

In some cases, doctors only administer a two-hour glucose tolerance test instead of the glucose challenge test. Testing in one step is considered to be the best way to test.

One-step test

  1. A fasting blood sugar level will be measured by your doctor.
  2. To achieve the desired goal, you will need to consume a carbohydrate-rich solution containing 75 grams (g).
  3. After one and two hours, your blood sugar will be tested again.

During your pregnancy, your doctor will likely diagnose you with gestational diabetes if your blood sugar is above these levels:

  • The blood sugar level above 92 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) at fasting
  • 180 mg/dL or greater one-hour blood sugar level
  • 153 mg/dL or more blood sugar level within two hours

Two-step test

  1. There is no need to fast before taking the two-step test.
  2. To avoid poisoning, they’ll ask you to drink a 50g sugar solution.
  3. After one hour, they will check your sugar levels.

They’ll conduct a follow-up test if your blood sugar levels are above or equal to 130 mg/dL or 140 mg/dL at that point. A doctor determines whether you are at risk.

  1. Your doctor will test your fasting blood sugar levels as part of the second test.
  2. You will be asked to drink a solution that contains 100 grams of sugar.
  3. You’ll be tested for blood sugar one, two, and three hours after you eat.

At least two of these values will likely indicate gestational diabetes:

  • An overnight blood sugar level of 95 to 105 mg/dL
  • 190 mg/dL or more for the preceding hour in blood sugar measurements
  • More than 155 mg/dL or 165 mg/dL in blood glucose after two hours
  • Having a blood glucose level of 140mg/dl or 145mg/dl in the past three hours

Is type 2 diabetes also a concern?

Pregnant women should also be screened for type 2 diabetes by their doctors. In the case of patients at risk for type 2 diabetes, your doctor will probably test them at your first prenatal appointment for the condition.

The following factors contribute to risk:

  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Being hypertensive
  • Insufficient levels of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol)
  • Having a high triglyceride level
  • Diabetes running in the family
  • Diabetes or signs of insulin resistance may have occurred before pregnancy if you had gestational diabetes or prediabetes
  • An infant whose weight exceeded nine pounds at birth
  • You are African American, Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander, or Hispanic

Read Also: Is It Safe To Eat Calamari During Pregnancy?

Does gestational diabetes come in different forms?

There are two types of gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is categorized as Class A1, which is curable solely through diet. The condition can be controlled with insulin or oral medications for women with class A2 gestational diabetes.

What is the treatment for gestational diabetes?

Your treatment plan depends on the blood sugar levels you have throughout the day if you have gestational diabetes.

You can control your condition by eating healthy and exercising regularly, and your doctor is most likely to recommend you test your blood sugar levels before and after meals.

The doctor may also inject insulin if necessary in some cases. Mayo Clinic estimates that only 10 to 20 percent of women with gestational diabetes require insulin treatment to manage their blood sugar levels.

They may provide you with a special glucose-monitoring device if your doctor suggests that you monitor your blood sugar levels.

In addition to insulin injections, your doctor may prescribe you something until your baby is born. To avoid low blood sugar, consult your doctor about timing your insulin injections appropriately.

In addition, if your blood sugar is consistently too high or too low, your doctor can advise you on what to do.

Read Also: Varicose Veins and Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy

If I have gestational diabetes, what should I eat?

diabetes during pregnancy

Managing gestational diabetes properly requires a balanced diet. The carbohydrate, protein, and fat intake of pregnant women should be monitored carefully.

Maintaining a healthy blood sugar level can also be accomplished by eating regularly – up to every two hours.

Read Also: Headaches During Pregnancy: Causes And Treatment


You can avoid spikes in blood sugar by correctly spacing out carbohydrate-rich foods.

Your doctor will determine the number of carbohydrates you can consume each day. In addition, a registered dietician might be recommended to assist with meal planning.

Among the best choices of carbohydrates are:

  • whole grains
  • brown rice
  • Lentils, beans, and peas
  • starchy vegetables
  • low-sugar fruits

Related: Can Women Eat Honey While Pregnant?


The number of servings of protein pregnant women should consume each day should be two to three. In addition to lean meats, fish, and tofu, sources of protein include beans.


Nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil are healthy fats that you should include in your diet. You can find more info about pregnancy and gestational diabetes here, including what foods to eat and those to avoid.

What Diabetes complications you can face during pregnancy?

You may have blood sugar levels that are higher than normal throughout your pregnancy if you manage your gestational diabetes poorly. Children can suffer complications and suffer health problems as a result. In the birth process, your baby might have the following characteristics:

  • A large birthweight
  • Breathing problems
  • Hypoglycemia

During childbirth, women’s shoulders become stuck in their birth canal due to shoulder dystocia

A later development of diabetes may also be a risk factor for them. So you must follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding gestational diabetes management.

Read Also: 9 Months Pregnant: Symptoms, Development, and Activities

What are the prospects for gestational diabetes?

You should see a return to normal blood sugar levels after giving birth. You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life if you have gestational diabetes. Do something to reduce your risk of developing these conditions and their complications by speaking to your doctor.

Is gestational diabetes preventable?

Preventing gestational diabetes completely isn’t possible. Healthy lifestyle habits, however, can help reduce the chances of contracting the disease.

Get regular exercise and eat a healthy diet if you have a risk factor for gestational diabetes. Walking could be beneficial, even if it is light activity.

If you’re overweight and plan to get pregnant shortly, one of your best options is to lose weight with your physician. It is possible to reduce your risk of gestational diabetes by losing even a small amount of weight.

Read Also: Five Common Viral Infections During Pregnancy

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