During pregnancy, about 10 percent of women who do not have diabetes develop diabetes. This is called gestational diabetes. I work with expecting mothers who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes to ensure a positive pregnancy outcome for both mother and baby.
What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is diabetes that can begin during a woman’s pregnancy. Gestational diabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than they should be during pregnancy for a woman who does not have diabetes. This happens because the placenta produces many hormones that make it difficult to keep blood sugar levels in normal ranges.
Who is at risk for gestational diabetes?
All pregnant women are at risk for developing gestational diabetes. However, women with the following are at a greater risk of developing gestational diabetes:
- Have Type II Diabetes
- Have a family history of Type II Diabetes
- Hispanic, African-American or Native American ethnicity are at a slightly increased risk for gestational diabetes
- Obesity — this is the greatest risk factor
If I’m expecting, how do I know I have gestational diabetes?
There are very few to no symptoms of gestational diabetes, so it’s important to be screened. Expecting mothers are typically screened for gestational diabetes between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. An oral glucose tolerance test is taken by drinking a sweetened liquid that contains glucose. The test measures how much your body is able to absorb the glucose in a 60-minute period. A blood sample is taken and tested following the intake of the sweetened liquid to determine if you have gestational diabetes.
What happens if I’m diagnosed with gestational diabetes?
If you’re diagnosed with gestational diabetes, your doctor will refer you for gestational diabetes education and monitoring. From there you will meet with a registered dietitian/certified diabetes educator who will provide you with information on gestational diabetes and how to manage risks to help you have a safe pregnancy. You’ll learn the importance of carbohydrate counting and exercise to control blood sugar levels. You’ll also learn how to use a blood glucose monitor and the target range for your blood sugar levels.
We’re with you every step of the way throughout your pregnancy to educate, guide and support you.
You’re in Good Hands
At Bryan we have two board certified maternal fetal medicine specialists, including myself and my colleague Sean Kenney, MD, who have a particular interest in diabetes in pregnancy. We have dedicated physicians, sonographers and nurses that provide care for those with gestational diabetes on a daily basis to ensure a positive pregnancy outcome for both you and your baby.
Concerned About Gestational Diabetes?
Learn more about gestational diabetes and services provided by Bryan Health.
Benjamin Byers, DO
Benjamin Byers, DO, is a board certified doctor with Center for Maternal & Fetal Care, part of the Bryan Physician Network.