September 2022

What is gestational diabetes?

When you are thinking about the possibilities of pregnancy, much of it can seem exciting and hopeful. As everyone knows pregnancy is not without its risks and many women are excited, but also concerned about a myriad of conditions they fear they will get while pregnant. Gestational diabetes is a condition you may have heard of. This condition doesn’t impact your fertility. This condition occurs when high blood sugar develops during pregnancy and your body can not produce enough insulin. While you shouldn’t fear this condition it is good to be aware of the risks and symptoms associated with it. Most women with gestational diabetes have safe and healthy pregnancies despite the condition.


gestational diabete


Who is at risk for gestational diabetes and what are the symptoms?


If you are concerned about gestational diabetes you may want to speak with your doctor to determine if you are at risk for gestational diabetes. While anyone can have gestational diabetes, there are some people who are more likely to than others. Those at high risk for gestational diabetes include:

  • Those who have a BMI above 30.

  • Women who have had a baby over 4.5kg previously.

  • Women who had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy. 

  • If someone in your close family has diabetes.

  • Women who are of South Asian, African-Caribbean, or Middle Eastern descent.  


There is no guarantee who will have gestational diabetes despite these factors. Besides looking for reasons you may be at risk it is also good to consider the symptoms of gestational diabetes. While your doctors will test your blood sugar during your pregnancy to look for signs of gestational diabetes, some symptoms you may recognize include:

  • Feeling very thirsty.

  • Having to pee more frequently.

  • Having dry mouth.

  • Fatigue.


Some of these symptoms are also common during pregnancy. If you notice any of these symptoms you should speak with your doctor. During pregnancy, your body is undergoing a huge change and this may manifest in many odd symptoms. Any condition is scary, but keeping your doctor informed about how you are feeling is the best thing you can do for your health. [1]


How is gestational diabetes treated?


Gestational diabetes is treated in three main ways, changing your lifestyle, closely monitoring your blood sugar, and medication if necessary.


Regarding your lifestyle, your diet and activity level are important for a healthy pregnancy. Before you get pregnant your doctor may suggest changing your diet and increasing your activity level if your lifestyle and health will cause a risky pregnancy. While you’re pregnant doctors will not suggest weight loss but a specific diet will help with gestational diabetes. Working with a nutritionist will ensure you are eating foods that will balance your blood sugar levels. Exercise lowers your blood sugar, so safe and regular exercise will be strongly recommended to anyone with gestational diabetes.  


If you have gestational diabetes your doctors will have you measure your blood sugar often. You will check it in the morning and before every meal. This will ensure that your blood sugar levels are in a good range for you and your baby. Medication will be prescribed such as insulin injections if lifestyle changes don't work. You and your baby will also be closely monitored. [2]


What effects can gestational diabetes cause long-term?


While most women have no issues after giving birth with gestational diabetes, there are some long-term effects to be aware of. The most important is the impact on your cardiovascular health. According to a UK study, women who had gestational diabetes are at a greater risk for cardiovascular problems. Gestational diabetes increased the risk of heart conditions in older women. It is recommended that after you give birth and are feeling healthier that you do not forget about gestational diabetes. You should still monitor your health, especially as you get older. The best way to avoid any long-term effects is to continue to have a healthy and active lifestyle. A nutritionist can help you stick to a diet that is healthy and you can continue long-term.


Any condition that you may have during pregnancy is scary. Your doctors will ensure your pregnancy is as safe as possible. It is important to listen to their recommendations and prioritize your health. [3]