Need To Know: Gestational Diabetes

Issue No. 4: Black Maternal Health
Words - Diana McDonnell: MSN, APRN, AGNP-CP
Illustration - Alexandra Folino


Gestational diabetes occurs when diabetes is diagnosed in a pregnant person who did not have diabetes prior to pregnancy. Sometimes it is temporary, lasting only for the duration of the pregnancy. However, it is important to repeat testing postpartum to make sure the parent no longer has diabetes after delivery.

Signs and symptoms
You should inform your health care provider if you experience increased thirst, frequent urination, nausea, fatigue, blurred vision, frequent infections, and blood in the urine when tested at the doctors office, because these could be symptoms of gestational diabetes.

Risk factors
You are more likely to develop gestational diabetes if you are overweight or obese, over the age of 35, or have a family history of diabetes.

Long term complications
If gestational diabetes goes undiagnosed or uncontrolled, it can cause problems for the parent and baby. One possible result of gestational diabetes is a larger sized baby, which may mean delivery could require a C-section (surgical delivery). Gestational diabetes can also be associated with high blood pressure during pregnancy, which can create additional risks.

Preventative care and treatment
Similar to type II diabetes, gestational diabetes can sometimes be controlled through exercise and eating healthy foods, but sometimes insulin is required for further management. A pregnant person with diabetes needs to check their blood sugar often to make sure it is at a safe level, and doesn’t become too high or too low.

Support Services
The American Diabetes Association and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases both have helpful information on managing gestational diabetes.