Gestational diabetes is a condition in which a woman who did not previously have abnormal blood sugars, has them during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is considered a temporary form of diabetes, and is generally more related to type 2 diabetes or diabetes with decreased insulin production and increased insulin demand through insulin resistance. A woman who has gestational diabetes does not have any different hormonal problems than a woman who does not develop gestational diabetes. Her body just isn’t able to produce the increased amount of insulin that is ordinarily required during pregnancy.
When a woman is pregnant, her first, second, and third trimester have a role of growth and development for both herself and her baby which are dictated by hormones in her body. Unfortunately, the hormones that she’s producing that help her to carry through a healthy pregnancy also work against insulin. During a normal pregnancy, the demand for insulin in a woman triples by the time the baby is born. Some women just cannot make enough insulin, and these are often women who have a very strong family history of diabetes or who are already on the road to diabetes or are possibly even pre-diabetic, and they just didn’t know it.
Gestational diabetes is temporary, because usually, as soon as the baby is born, the blood sugars return back to normal. In fact, they can even return to normal during the process of delivery and actually immediately return to lower than normal.
Generally, within one to two days of the baby’s birth, a woman who had gestational diabetes will have perfectly normal blood sugars. Medical professionals do suggest that she continue testing her blood sugars for the week following just as a precaution to detect any continued blood sugar problems because it’s always possible that a woman who is diagnosed with gestational diabetes actually had pre-existing blood sugar problems that were just not known, just were not detected or just were not strong enough before the pregnancy. Persistent blood sugar problems occur in about 5% to 10% of the women with gestational diabetes.
Risk Factors of Gestational Diabetes
Risk factors for gestational diabetes are age greater than 25 years, belonging to an ethnic group that is non-Caucasian, having a personal family history of diabetes or a previous history of a gestational diabetes pregnancy, and of course, being overweight or habitually inactive.