If you’re diagnosed with gestational diabetes (GD), it’s very important to keep your blood glucose (sugar) level within the target range. You may need to check it several times a day – typically before meal (fasting) and after meal. Fasting blood sugar 105 and 110 mg /dL are commonly considered abnormal. These high levels are still too dangerous for pregnancy. The good news, GD is controllable and you can still have a healthy pregnancy.
Brief summary about gestational diabetes
As the name suggests, it occurs during pregnancy – and it’s only found in pregnancy. You cannot get rid of it during pregnancy, but again it’s treatable! And it usually goes away on its own after giving birth.
Causes and risk factors
Like diabetes mellitus, in GD the body also loses its natural ability to use glucose (sugar) for energy as effectively as usual. What is the exact cause? The answer is not fully known yet. But there are some explanations.
The increased pregnancy hormones, especially in late pregnancy, are often to blame. The placenta is essential part of pregnancy. It is responsible to stimulate and produce essential hormones for baby development and growth during pregnancy.
But some of these hormones can interrupt with the mother’s insulin that may cause a condition called insulin resistance (when insulin doesn’t work as effectively as usual). The demand for insulin can significantly increase during pregnancy, could be 2-3 times greater than normal. In some pregnancies, the body fails to make enough insulin, and GD may develop.
When pregnancy is over, so is gestational diabetes. Soon after delivery, the pregnancy hormones and placenta go away. Then insulin will return to normal.
Doctors don’t know why some pregnancies develop GD. But in general, the risk of developing the condition is high in women with the following risk factors:
- Being obese before pregnant.
- Having pre-diabetes before pregnant, a condition in which you have high blood sugar but not high enough to be categorized into diabetes. See also the table of normal and abnormal blood sugar levels!
- GD is also likely to run in families. If you have a family history of GD or diabetes mellitus, your risk is higher to develop the same condition.
- A personal history of GD. If you have had GD in your previous pregnancy, you’re likely to have it again in your next pregnancy.
- GD is relatively more common in Native American, African-American, Hispanic, and Asian.
What happen if gestational diabetes is poorly controlled?
Again, GD doesn’t go away during pregnancy. But this doesn’t mean that you can ignore it. It’s always important to make sure that your GD is well controlled.
Poorly-controlled high blood sugar will pay the price in some consequences. The following are some complications that may occur if your GD is poorly controlled:
- The risk of a serious pregnancy complication called preeclampsia, typically characterized by excessive protein in the urine and high blood pressure. It can hurt both the mother and baby – even sometime it could cause death. It is commonly found during the second half of pregnancy, though sometime it may also develop earlier.
- The risk of giving birth earlier than normal due to the baby has grown too big or if you have preeclampsia or due to other reasons. And you may need to take a cesarean section (c-section) to deliver baby earlier.
- And premature birth also carries some consequences. The baby is not only at high risk of getting overweight (larger than normal) at birth, but also may experience hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) right after birth, respiratory distress syndrome (a breathing problem), and a greater chance of dying soon after or before birth.
GD also increases the risk of type-2 diabetes. All of these risks may make you worry about your pregnancy. But these risks are so preventable. Even many pregnant women with GD, especially if the condition is well controlled, have normal pregnancies and deliver healthy babies.
Gestational diabetes fasting blood sugar targets
Your doctor usually asks you to check blood glucose at certain times of day, particularly such as after fasting or before your first meal of the day. As the name implies, fasting means refraining from eating or drinking (except plain water).
Fasting blood sugar is used for a number of reasons. It can be used to see how well your blood sugar is controlled. It may also help analyze the effectiveness of diabetic treatment you’re taking.
Again, fasting blood sugar 105 and 110 are still considered high in GD. The blood sugar level targets may vary from woman to woman – ask your healthcare provider for more advice. In general, the following are recommended blood sugar targets for pregnant women with GD: