How is gestational diabetes diagnosed? And what exactly does it mean? Let’s start with some basics. Gestational diabetes definition: glucose intolerance with onset or first recognition during pregnancy. It’s important to differentiate gestational diabetes from type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease and requires insulin. Type 2 diabetes is similar to gestational diabetes in that they are both associated with insulin resistance. There are differences between the two though.
Gestational diabetes is usually diagnosed with an oral glucose tolerance test between weeks 24 and 28 gestation. However, if a women is at high risk for gestational diabetes or has had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy, she may be tested earlier. The time between weeks 24 and 28 is important. It’s at this point in the pregnancy where insulin needs increase. If the body can’t produce enough insulin to keep up with the increased needs at this point, insulin needs only increase during the remainder of the pregnancy.
Gestational Diabetes Definition
Knowing if you have diabetes (any type) is always important, but it’s especially critical during pregnancy. High blood sugar affects the environment inside the uterus…your baby’s home for 40 weeks. The only way to know if your blood sugar is too high is through monitoring. Testing your blood sugar at regular intervals, typically a fasting reading and then again 2 hours after each meal, allows you to see what’s going on and to make changes to your diet. And keeping a log of what you eat and your blood sugar reading allows you to spot trends & patterns. If you don’t have a tracker already, you can grab one here.
Gestational diabetes treatment is individualized for every woman. However, ALL treatment plans include a gestational diabetes diet and blood sugar monitoring.
Coustan, Donald R, editor. Medical Management of Pregnancy Complicated by Diabetes. American Diabetes Association, 2013.