Pregnancy and Diabetes

 Pregestational Diabetes

This occurs when a woman who already has diabetes becomes pregnant. It's important to manage blood sugar levels, because if blood sugar is too high during the early weeks of pregnancy, it can cause damage to the baby's organs.

Controlling pregestational diabetes:

  • Check blood sugar often
  • Change your diet as recommended by your doctor
  • Possibly change your medications or insulin dose
  • Eat right
  • Exercise regularly

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes occurs in pregnant women who have never had diabetes before, but who have high blood sugar (glucose). Gestational diabetes is one of three main types of diabetes. According to a 2014 analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionOpens a new window, the prevalence of gestational diabetes is as high as 9.2%.

Cause and risk factors

According to the American Diabetes Association, gestational diabetes starts when your body is not able to make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy. Without enough insulin, glucose (one of the simplest forms of sugar) cannot leave the blood and be changed to energy. Glucose builds up in the blood to high levels. This is called hyperglycemia (too much glucose in the blood). Doctors test for gestational diabetes between the 24th and 28th week.

Risk factors for gestational diabetes:

  • Overweight before pregnancy
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Previous baby with birth weight of 9 pounds or more
  • Age 25 or older
  • Hispanic, African American, Native American, Asian American or Pacific Island descent

Managing the disease

It's important to manage blood sugar levels, because if blood sugar is too high during pregnancy, it can cause complications for the baby like jaundice, low blood sugar at birth and respiratory problems.

Gestational diabetes can be managed through:

  • Changes to your diet
  • Careful monitoring of your blood sugar
  • Getting doses of insulin via:
    • An injection or shot
    • An insulin pump