Most women find out they have gestational diabetes after being tested between the 24th and 28th weeks of their pregnancy. After you know you have gestational diabetes, you will need to make certain changes in the way you eat and how often you exercise to help keep your blood sugar level within a safe range. As you get farther along in your pregnancy, your body will continue to make more and more hormones. This can make it harder and harder to control your blood sugar. If it is not possible to control your blood sugar with food and exercise, you may also need to give yourself shots of insulin.
Just because you have diabetes does not mean that your baby will have diabetes. Most women with gestational diabetes give birth to healthy babies. If you are able to keep your blood sugar level within a safe range, your chances of having problems during pregnancy or birth are the same as if you didn't have gestational diabetes.
In rare cases, a mother or her baby has problems because of high blood sugar. These problems include:
- High blood pressure in the mother caused by preeclampsia.
- A baby that grows too large. If an unborn baby receives too much sugar, the sugar can turn into fat, causing the baby to grow larger than normal. A large baby can be injured during vaginal birth and may need to be delivered surgically (C-section).
- After the baby is born, extra insulin may cause the baby's blood sugar level to drop below the safe range. If the baby's blood sugar level drops too low, he or she may need to be given extra sugar. Babies can also develop other treatable problems after birth, including low blood calcium levels, high bilirubin levels, and too many red blood cells.
Most of the time, gestational diabetes goes away after a baby is born. But if you have had gestational diabetes, you have a greater chance of having it in a future pregnancy and of developing type 2 diabetes. More than half of women who develop gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes later in life.2