Diabetes Diabetes Diabetes is a disease in which your blood sugar (glucose) levels are too high. You get diabetes if your body's normal way of controlling blood sugar isn't working right. There are 2 types of... read more is a disease in which your blood sugar (glucose) levels are too high. Blood sugar is your body’s main source of energy. Your body breaks down all types of foods, including bread, fruit, soda, and pasta, into blood sugar.
The hormone insulin controls your blood sugar. If your body doesn't have enough insulin or isn't responding properly to the insulin, your blood sugar will be too high. High blood sugar can cause many problems for both you and your baby.
Getting diabetes during pregnancy is called gestational diabetes. About 1 in 10 to 1 in 20 pregnant women get gestational diabetes.
If you already have diabetes, your diabetes may get worse during pregnancy
You can also develop diabetes for the first time while you’re pregnant—this diabetes often goes away after you have your baby
Having diabetes during pregnancy can cause serious problems for you and your baby
Doctors check all pregnant women to see if they have diabetes during pregnancy
Doctors will watch you closely to make sure your blood sugar level stays close to normal
What causes diabetes during pregnancy?
You’re more likely to get gestational diabetes if:
You've had it before
You have close family members with diabetes
You’re Native American, Pacific Islander, Mexican, Indian, or Asian
What problems can diabetes during pregnancy cause?
If untreated, diabetes during pregnancy can raise the chance of:
Serious birth defects
Low blood sugar in your baby
Jaundice Jaundice in Newborns Jaundice is a yellow color of the skin and the whites of the eyes that's caused by the buildup of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a yellow substance your body makes when it breaks down... read more (when the skin and white parts of the eyes look yellow) in your baby
Large baby, which may cause problems during vaginal birth or mean you'll need a c-section Cesarean Delivery (C-Section) A C-section is surgery to deliver your baby through a cut made in your belly and uterus. For a cesarean delivery, an incision is made in the abdomen and into the uterus. This incision is usually... read more
Preeclampsia Preeclampsia and Eclampsia Preeclampsia is a certain type of high blood pressure that happens during pregnancy. The placenta (afterbirth) is the organ in your uterus (womb) that feeds the fetus (baby). Preeclampsia can... read more (a dangerous type of high blood pressure High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy High blood pressure (hypertension) is when the pressure of blood in your arteries is too high. Arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the body. Blood pressure that's... read more that happens during pregnancy)
How can doctors tell if I have diabetes during pregnancy?
Doctors check all pregnant women for diabetes using a blood test. Most doctors recommend a glucose tolerance test. In this test:
You drink a very sugary drink that has a lot of glucose
One hour later, doctors will take a sample of blood and test the blood sugar level
If the blood sugar is very high, you have gestational diabetes
If your blood sugar is only a little high, doctors repeat the test with even more glucose in the drink and measure your blood sugar after 3 hours
Sometimes, doctors just measure your blood sugar without having you drink a sugary drink. This is quicker and easier but isn't as accurate.
How do doctors treat diabetes during pregnancy?
If you have diabetes and plan to get pregnant, doctors will have you control your blood sugar level by:
Following an eating plan (avoid high-sugar foods, don’t gain extra weight)
Your doctor may work as part of a health care team with nurses and nutritionists to lower your chance of problems. They will:
Try to keep your blood sugar level as close to normal as possible
Tell you to check your blood sugar level at home several times a day using a blood sugar meter
Give you insulin or other medicine to lower your blood sugar level
Check on your baby by counting your baby’s heart rate and doing an ultrasound
During labor and delivery
If you don’t go into labor by 39 weeks, doctors may start labor using medicine
Doctors may give you insulin through a vein during labor
Your health care team will watch your baby closely and do blood tests often
If you had diabetes before pregnancy, usually you’ll be able to return to the amount of insulin or medicine you used to take within a week of having your baby
Gestational diabetes usually goes away after you have your baby, but you may have it again with another pregnancy, and you have a higher chance of getting diabetes permanently as you get older