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Gestational diabetes

  • Alternative Names

    Glucose intolerance during pregnancy


    Treatment

    The goals of treatment are to keep blood sugar (glucose) levels within normal limits during the pregnancy, and to make sure that the growing baby is healthy.

    WATCHING YOUR BABY

    Your health care provider should closely check both you and your baby throughout the pregnancy. Fetal monitoring to check the size and health of the fetus often includes ultrasound and nonstress tests.

    • A nonstress test is a very simple, painless test for you and your baby. A machine that hears and displays your baby's heartbeat (electronic fetal monitor) is placed on your abdomen. When the baby moves, the baby's heart rate normally increases 15 - 20 beats above its regular rate.
    • Your health care provider can compare the pattern of your baby's heartbeat to movements and find out whether the baby is doing well. The health care provider will look for increases in the baby's normal heart rate occurring within a certain period of time.

    DIET AND EXERCISE

    The best way to improve your diet is by eating a variety of healthy foods. You should learn how to read food labels, and check them when making food decisions. Talk to your doctor or dietitian if you are a vegetarian or on some other special diet.

    In general, your diet should be moderate in fat and protein and provide controlled levels of carbohydrates through foods that include fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates (such as bread, cereal, pasta, and rice). You will also be asked to cut back on foods that contain a lot of sugar, such as soft drinks, fruit juices, and pastries.

    You will be asked to eat three small- to moderate-sized meals and one or more snacks each day. Do not skip meals and snacks. Keep the amount and types of food (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) the same from day to day.

    • Your doctor or nurse will prescribe a daily prenatal vitamin. They may suggest that you take extra iron or calcium. Talk to your doctor or nurse if you're a vegetarian or are on some other special diet.
    • Remember that "eating for two" does not mean you need to eat twice as many calories. You usually need just 300 extra calories a day (such as a glass of milk, a banana, and 10 crackers).

    For details on what you should eat, see: Diabetes diet - gestational

    If managing your diet does not control blood sugar (glucose) levels, you may be prescribed diabetes medicine by mouth or insulin therapy. You will need to monitor your blood sugar (glucose) levels during treatment.

    Most women who develop gestational diabetes will not need diabetes medicines or insulin, but some will.


    Support Groups


    Expectations (prognosis)

    Most women with gestational diabetes are able to control their blood sugar and avoid harm to themselves or their baby.

    Pregnant women with gestational diabetes tend to have larger babies at birth. This can increase the chance of problems at the time of delivery, including:

    • Birth injury (trauma) because of the baby's large size
    • Delivery by c-section

    Your baby is more likely to have periods of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) during the first few days of life.

    Mothers with gestational diabetes have an increased risk for high blood pressure during pregnancy.

    There is a slightly increased risk of the baby dying when the mother has untreated gestational diabetes. Controlling blood sugar levels reduces this risk.

    High blood sugar (glucose) levels often go back to normal after delivery. However, women with gestational diabetes should be watched closely after giving birth and at regular doctor's appointments to screen for signs of diabetes. Many women with gestational diabetes develop diabetes within 5 - 10 years after delivery. The risk may be increased in obese women.


    Complications
    • Delivery-related complications due to the infant's large size
    • Development of diabetes later in life
    • Increased risk of newborn death and stillbirth
    • Low blood sugar (glucose) or illness in the newborn

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if you are pregnant and you have symptoms of diabetes.