Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy in women who don’t already have diabetes. Every year, 2% to 10% of pregnancies are affected by gestational diabetes. Managing gestational diabetes will help make sure you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
What Causes Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes occurs when your body can’t make enough insulin during your pregnancy. Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that acts like a key to let blood sugar into the cells in your body for use as energy.
During pregnancy, your body makes more hormones and goes through other changes, such as weight gain. These changes cause your body’s cells to use insulin less effectively, a condition called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance increases your body’s need for insulin.
All pregnant women have some insulin resistance during late pregnancy. However, some women have insulin resistance even before they get pregnant. They start pregnancy with an increased need for insulin and are more likely to have gestational diabetes.
How You Can Treat It
The key is to act quickly. As treatable as it is, gestational diabetes can hurt you and your baby.
Treatment aims to keep your blood glucose (blood sugar) levels normal. It can include special meal plans and regular physical activity. It can also include daily blood glucose testing and insulin injections.
We suggest the following target for women testing blood glucose levels during pregnancy:
- Before a meal: 95 mg/dl or less
- One hour after a meal: 140 mg/dl or less
- Two hours after a meal: 120 mg/dl or less
Always remember that this is treatable—and working with your health care team can help ensure a healthy pregnancy.
Diet and Exercise are Your Friends
As with all forms of diabetes, diet and exercise can help you gain the upper hand. With gestational diabetes, maintaining a balanced diet is integral to your success. Your doctor can help you develop a meal plan that makes sense for you, helping you identify the best foods and quick meal ideas that can help you stay healthy and strong.
Exercise is critical as well. Work with your doctor to determine the level of activity that’s safe for you and your baby throughout your pregnancy. Use our resources as well to stay in touch with ideas for daily activity. The important thing to remember is to take action as quickly as you can, to stay with it, and to stay on top of your condition. It’s treatable. It’s manageable. And it’s a fight that you can win.