Diabetes in Pregnancy: A Comprehensive Look at Gestational Diabetes
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Diabetes in Pregnancy: A Comprehensive Look at Gestational Diabetes

What is gestational diabetes? What causes gestational diabetes? What percentage of women develops gestational diabetes? What is insulin resistance? At what point in pregnancy does gestational diabetes occur? These questions and more will be answered in this article. If you have gestational diabetes or know someone who has it, please continue to read.

What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. This disorder is usually discovered in the last trimester of the pregnancy. Over the course of the pregnancy the mother becomes insulin resistant due to the hormone changes created by the placenta.

What percentage of women develops gestational diabetes?

Approximately 4 percent of pregnant women in the United States develop gestational diabetes. Chances are that you know someone who has had gestational diabetes during her pregnancy.

What causes gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is caused by hormone changes in the body which causes an imbalance of blood glucose levels. There is an imbalance of hormones that are produced in the placenta. The function of the placenta is to transfer nutrients from the mother to the developing fetus. There are hormones that prevent the mother from getting hypoglycemic. The hormones are supposed to keep the mother’s glucose levels within normal limits. When the hormones get out of balance, the mother can develop elevated blood sugar levels.

What is insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance is a metabolic abnormality that occurs in Type II Diabetes and Gestational Diabetes. The expectant mother cannot metabolize carbohydrates well because of insulin resistance. In other words, the mom’s insulin (hormone that carries glucose into the cells) cannot penetrate the membranes of the cells. The mother’s cells become insensitive to the insulin that her body makes.

How is gestational diabetes treated?

Gestational diabetes is treated with a healthy diet, adequate exercise and medication. It may be necessary to treat gestational diabetes with insulin injections. If the mom’s blood glucose levels can’t be controlled with diet and exercise, she will need to take insulin shots. The mom will need to test her blood glucose levels on a regular basis. Most women check their blood glucose levels before meals and at bedtime.

As part of the treatment for gestational diabetes the mother will need to keep her appointments for regular checkups. The doctor will need to keep track of the unborn baby’s growth. Babies tend to overgrow inside a diabetic mom.

At what point in pregnancy does gestational diabetes occur?

Gestational diabetes can be discovered in the first, second and third trimester. At any point that a pregnant woman is found with diabetes, it is considered to be gestational diabetes. Very often, gestational diabetes occurs in the last trimester, but it can occur at any time during the pregnancy.

How about gestational diabetes and diet?

Women with gestational diabetes are encouraged to make healthy dietary choices. The woman’s doctor and nutritionist will help guide the mom how to eat. A variety of fruits and vegetables, and healthy grains would be encouraged, while empty calories should be avoided.

How about gestational diabetes and exercise?

The exercise requirements will be determined by the doctor and the mother’s ability to engage in regular exercise. Barring no physical limitations the doctor may suggest at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. The exercise may be walking or some other type of aerobic exercise.


If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, don’t panic. Gestational diabetes often goes away after the delivery of the baby. However, there is a chance that a woman may be diagnosed with diabetes at some point in her life, even if it goes away after pregnancy.

After delivering the baby, the newborn’s blood glucose level will also be monitored. The baby is at risk for hypoglycemia after birth due to making extra insulin to compensate for the mother’s elevated blood glucose levels.



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Comments (8)

Good thing for women to be aware of before they get pregnant.  4% is actually quite high when you think of it, that is nearly one in 20.

This is really vital information Charlene.

Yes, Brenda it is high.. which is why I said that everyone probably knows someone with it.

Thanks Martin.

I learned something new here. I had never heard of this type of diabetes before.

Hadn't heard of this diabetes before and your article is very informative.

Ranked #16 in Pregnancy Health

Learned something new kind of diabetes here, thank you for this informative presentation.

Excellent article, Charlene. I know someone who had gestational diabetes. Thankfully the baby was fine, and the mom's diabetes disappeared after the delivery.