Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops during your pregnancy and usually goes away after the baby is born. It occurs in up to 10% of all pregnancies.
Diabetes is a condition where your glucose levels are elevated. More glucose than usual will go to your baby, allowing it to grow bigger than it would have otherwise.
A larger baby may have a more difficult time being born, and it will increase the chance of your needing a cesarean. Other problems related to gestational diabetes include excessive amniotic fluid (a condition known as polyhydramnios) and possible preeclampsia. Finally, if the diabetes is very severe, there is an increased risk for a stillbirth to occur.
Due to these potential problems, your health care provider will often perform a glucose tolerance test (GTT) between 24 and 28 weeks gestation. This test involves your drinking a sugar drink and then having a blood test one hour later to look at your glucose level. If your glucose level is high (greater than 130-140), it indicates that you might have gestational diabetes. A second, more involved, glucose test (called a “3 hr GTT”) will then be performed to see if you have the condition or not. If this second test is positive, you will be diagnosed as having gestational diabetes.
If you do have gestational diabetes, you will be sent to a nutritionist to discuss your dietary and exercise habits. You will be asked to check your glucose levels early in the morning and after meals, and you will be asked to exercise at least 30 minutes per day. If your glucose levels are well controlled by the changes in your habits, your baby will usually not grow excessively large.
If, on the other hand, the glucose levels remain high despite your best efforts, insulin, an injectable medication or an oral medication called glyburide, will often be prescribed to help control your sugar levels. If you need medications to control your glucose levels, your baby will be monitored closely with non-stress tests (NST) and ultrasounds to verify that your baby remains healthy.
It is important that you do kick counts on a daily basis if you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
If you have gestational diabetes, your health care provider will very likely induce your labor at or before your due date to prevent problems.
Do talk to your health care provider about what kind of fetal monitoring you must do and how long he or she will let your pregnancy progress before an induction is recommended.