You are about 7 months pregnant, and your doctor has just diagnosed you with gestational diabetes?  What does this mean, and how can this affect your pregnancy?

Gestational diabetes means you develop diabetes during your pregnancy (gestation).  This condition develops during the second half of pregnancy and can affect both mom and baby.

Your healthcare provider will screen you for gestational diabetes between approximately 24 and 28 weeks.  This is done by having you drink a very sugary sweet liquid and testing your blood sugar levels after you drink it at specific time intervals.  The levels of sugar in your blood at these intervals assist your healthcare provider in making the diagnosis of gestational diabetes.

Treatment for gestational diabetes may include medications, testing your blood sugar at home and watching your diet. Your healthcare provider will want to see you often to make sure that your blood sugar is maintained at a safe level for you and your baby.

Having your blood sugar controlled is important for your health and the health of your baby.  If your blood sugar is not controlled, the baby can become too large and will have difficulty getting through the birth canal.  When this happens, the baby’s shoulders may have difficulty being delivered.  This may cause a temporary or permanent paralysis of a baby’s shoulder, arm or hand.

If a baby is too large and gets stuck, the baby may also suffer brain damage from not being able to get oxygen to its brain.  This could lead to the death of the baby.

If you do develop gestational diabetes or have a large baby while you are pregnant, it is important to ask your healthcare provider to talk about what he/she plans to do to anticipate a healthy delivery for you and your baby. Remember, complications can occur, and if this is the case, what does your healthcare provider plan to do in case this situation occurs?  Is the hospital that you plan to deliver at equipped to handle an emergency like this? These are all important issues that your healthcare provider can and should share with you.