Warning Signs of Gestational Diabetes

Reviewed by James Brann, MD
Even if you feel good during your pregnancy, gestational diabetes is something you should be on the lookout for. This is a somewhat common occurrence that happens when your pregnancy hormones interfere with your body’s ability to process sugar. Although it happens in only a marginal (less than 5%) number of pregnancies, it can be alarming.
Women with gestational diabetes run a risk of high blood pressure, elevated insulin (blood sugar) and other complications. This can put your baby at risk, especially if left untreated. Women with this type of “pregnancy diabetes” are more likely to give birth to large babies because of the extra sugar from the expectant mother being delivered through the umbilical cord to the fetus.

As you can imagine, having a nine pound baby or more will cause more pain during labor and delivery, therefore many women with gestational diabetes are succumbed to C-sections. Their newborns are more likely to develop breathing problems or have jaundice, which causes the baby’s skin to appear yellowish in color. Or even worse, the baby could get stuck in the birth canal.

Who is most at risk of gestational diabetes?

Overall, these things all sound problematic, so it is best to check for diabetes somewhere around the 24 – 28th week of pregnancy. You may be more at risk if you are over the age of thirty, have a family history of diabetes or if you have ever had gestational diabetes in previous pregnancies. Certain races also have a higher risk of developing this, especially African-American, Eastern Asian, Native American, or Hispanic heritages. Women who are overweight also have a higher chance of developing gestational diabetes, no matter their ethnic background.
If you are within one of the higher risk categories, your ob-gyn may decide to screen you sooner than the normal 24-week mark. Your doctor will ask you to drink a sugary, liquid substance and then you may have to wait for a while in the waiting room. After the sugary liquid has a chance to work, you will be asked to take a blood test, whereupon your blood sugar levels will be checked. If they seem high, you may be asked to repeat this test again.

What are the symptoms?

Gestational diabetes symptoms are tough to notice, especially for pregnant women. Your body is already changing so much that it can be hard to discern whether your symptoms are something to be concerned about or not. In fact, some women don’t notice any symptoms at all, making it even tougher to determine. You may feel:

  • Extra thirsty or dehydrated
  • Extra tired or fatigued
  • Extra hungry or famished
  • Nauseous or vomiting
  • Increased frequency in urinating
  • Bladder infections
  • Blurry vision


Because many of the symptoms are also associated with other pregnancy issues, it may be tough to pinpoint. So, it is best for all expectant mothers to check if they feel any of these symptoms. The worst your doctor can say is that you have it, but by not getting proper care if you do, it can cause more harm to both the baby and your own personal health.

On the bright side, gestational diabetes often goes away following the pregnancy and will not interfere with a woman’s ability to breastfeed. Many women can manage their diabetes through proper nutrition, exercise and other incredibly natural solutions. It is best to avoid excessive sweets, as this can also raise blood sugar levels. A diet filled with plenty of veggies, fruits, nuts, beans and “good carbs” will be best for you to manage blood sugars. Your doctor may also give you instructions to prick your finger and check your insulin levels daily.

Living with gestational diabetes is not the end of the world; however it is essential for you and the baby to get proper care.

 

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