Gestational Diabetes Management

Gestational diabetes happens only during pregnancy, but the condition can cause risks for you and your baby. By taking steps to control your blood sugar while you’re pregnant, this type of diabetes typically disappears after delivering your baby. But your experience of gestational diabetes can increase your risk for developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.

Gestational Diabetes Education Close to Home

Take advantage of the expert diabetes physicians, dietitians and researchers at OU Health Harold Hamm Diabetes Center in Oklahoma City and Tulsa to help you learn to make healthy choices during pregnancy. When you eat well, stay active and control your blood sugar levels, you can anticipate or prevent future effects from gestational diabetes.

When you choose OU Health for your pregnancy and childbirth care, you gain access to the comprehensive diabetes education program that aids you in recognizing the symptoms of gestational diabetes and provides the awareness, education and skills you need to effectively manage the condition while you’re pregnant.

Signs & Risk Factors for Gestational Diabetes

Typically, gestational diabetes doesn’t create any symptoms, which means you want to talk about it with your doctor and get tested if you experience any of these signs:

  • Frequent urination
  • Increased hunger or thirst
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weight loss even with growing hunger

Changes occurring in your body during pregnancy, including hormones made by the placenta that can keep your body from using insulin properly, may lead to the insulin resistance that occurs with gestational diabetes. Other factors that contribute to the condition include:

  • Excess weight
  • Family history of diabetes
  • A baby who died before birth
  • History of gestational diabetes
  • Heritage of Latina, African American, American Indian, South or East Asian, or Pacific Islander

Risks for Baby

Although gestational diabetes generally doesn’t cause birth defects, the condition can put your baby at risk for NICU admission and major health problems, including:

  • Macrosomia – Unusually large size of baby at birth, making vaginal delivery difficult and creating the potential for trauma, nerve damage or the need for cesarean delivery
  • Hypoglycemia – Low blood sugar or significant blood sugar drop after birth when mother’s high blood sugar level no longer supports baby

Gestational Diabetes Management Program

When you participate in OU Health’s gestational diabetes education and management program, you’ll work with your doctor and multidisciplinary team to evaluate your health, develop an accurate diagnosis and create a personalized care plan to support you in successfully bringing your pregnancy to term.

A two-part glucose tolerance test that measures blood sugar levels at different intervals helps confirm the diagnosis. Then, while you’re pregnant, you may work with an OU Health registered dietitian (RD) to help you understand how specific foods affect your blood sugar and how to manage the condition by controlling your blood sugar through:

  • Eating healthful foods, including a variety from each food group each day and planning balanced meals
  • Getting exercise, both the best kind for your specific situation and at the best time of day, to help your body use more blood sugar
  • Checking your blood sugar multiple times each day at home, as well as at regular intervals through your doctor’s office

Beyond diet and exercise, treatment options may include insulin injections or oral medications to keep blood sugars within normal range.

You and your OU Health physician and team will collaborate for optimal care of your condition during or after your pregnancy. You also may receive a referral for specialized care at OU Health Harold Hamm Diabetes Center in Oklahoma City or Tulsa.

Special Testing & Monitoring for Baby

Your doctor may order special testing and monitoring for baby during your pregnancy, especially if you take insulin. Tests may include:

  • Fetal movement counting – Tracks the number of movements or kicks in a certain period of time to watch for a change in activity
  • Ultrasound – Uses sound waves to create images of blood flow and blood vessels, tissues and organs as they function
  • Nonstress testing – Measures baby’s heart rate in response to movement
  • Biophysical profile – Combines nonstress test and ultrasound to check baby’s movements, heart rate and amniotic fluid
  • Doppler flow studies – Measures blood flow using advanced ultrasound

Lower Your Future Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Once you experience gestational diabetes, your risk of developing the condition with your next pregnancy increases, as does your risk for developing Type 2 diabetes (T2D). To lower your risk, lose weight if you’re overweight. Stay active and get as much exercise as possible. Eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods. Ask your healthcare provider for regular diabetes screenings.