Gestational diabetes (also called gestational diabetes mellitus) is a kind of diabetes that can happen during pregnancy. Diabetes is a condition in which your body has too much sugar (called glucose) in the blood. Glucose is your body’s main source of fuel for energy. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into your cells to give them energy. When you have diabetes, your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or can’t use it well. This causes high blood sugar.
If untreated, gestational diabetes can cause problems, like premature birth and stillbirth. But if your diabetes is treated and controlled, you can have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Here’s what you can do to manage gestational diabetes:
- Go to all your prenatal care checkups: If you have gestational diabetes, you go for prenatal care more often. This helps your health care provider make sure that you and your baby are doing well.
- Monitor your blood sugar: Check your blood sugar regularly and keep a log to track it. This can help your provider monitor your treatment. Your provider can show you how to measure your blood sugar and tell you how often to check it.
- Eat healthy foods: Choosing healthy foods, eating the right amount and having regular meals can help you control your blood sugar.
- Be active: Physical activity helps regulate your blood sugar. Ask your provider how much and what type of activity is best for you. It’s OK for most women to do 30 minutes of moderate physical activity (like walking, riding a stationary bike) each day.
- Take medicine, if your provider prescribes it: Your provider may want you to take medicine called insulin to control your blood sugar. If your provider prescribes insulin, take it exactly as she tells you to.
Gestational diabetes usually happens at 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy and goes away after you give birth. But if you have it in one pregnancy, you’re more likely to have it in your next pregnancy. You’re also more likely to develop diabetes later in life. If you have gestational diabetes, talk to your provider about how to reduce your risk of having diabetes later in life. To learn more, visit marchofdimes.org.