Gestational Diabetes

How Can You Prevent Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes most often appears during the middle of the second trimester, or around 22 to 24 weeks. All pregnant women are encouraged to take the 1 hour glucose tolerance test, or GTT, around 22 weeks to check for gestational diabetes. The test includes drinking a heavily sugared drink and then blood sugar levels being tested through a blood draw one hour later. If the levels are higher than desired, gestational diabetes is suspected and a second, longer test is prescribed. This second test is 3 hours long and is known as the 3 hour GTT. If the levels are higher than desired after this test, the woman is diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

All cases are treated differently, and there is no magic way to cure gestational diabetes. Most women begin treatment by meeting with a dietician and going on a strict lower carbohydrate diet. Usually, this is enough to keep blood sugar levels in a normal range. However, some women do require treatment through oral medications or insulin injections. In addition, women will need to be seen by their doctors more often for monitoring. Most likely, patients will need to be seen about once per week and will also need to undergo non-stress tests beginning at about 32 weeks of pregnancy.

Women with gestational diabetes are required to test their blood sugar levels at a minimum of 4 times per day – after breakfast, after lunch, after dinner and before bed. Blood sugar levels are tested with a glucose monitor, which requires a finger prick to extract a small amount of blood to put on a test strip. Within 15 seconds, the blood sugar level is displayed. Levels for a woman with gestational diabetes should be below 150 within 2 hours after eating and below 95 after fasting, or first thing in the morning.

Complications from gestational diabetes are an increased chance of pre-eclampsia, babies with higher birth weights and broader shoulders which may require a c-section, and stillbirth. The majority of women diagnosed do not have any complications that arise. As long as blood sugar levels are kept as close to normal as possible, the rest of the pregnancy should be free of complications from gestational diabetes.