Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM)


What is GDM?

Gestational Diabetes. The word gestational means while you are pregnant, and the word diabetes means high blood sugars. So gestational diabetes means high blood sugars while you are pregnant. It is the most common pregnancy condition with one out of every 12 women develops gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes typically is diagnosed late in the second trimester. The goal of treatment is to keep the blood sugar (glucose) levels within normal limits to avoid complications for you or your baby. Often, blood sugar levels return to normal after delivery.

Why does GDM happen?

Pregnancy is a time of great change, both emotionally and physically. These changes may have a major impact on blood sugar level. Insulin is the hormone that is produced by the body to regulate blood sugar.

During pregnancy the body is required to produce up to three times the usual amount of insulin to compensate for the effect of placental hormones which tend to increase blood sugar levels. Sometimes a woman’s body cannot keep up with the demands of the placenta and this can cause sugar levels to rise.

Any pregnant woman can develop gestational diabetes. The following are risk factors for women most likely to develop GDM: 

  • Family history of diabetes
  • Increase in maternal weight
  • Maternal age greater than 25 years old
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Previous history of gestational diabetes
  • Having had a baby that weighed nine pounds or more
  • History of a stillbirth
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome or thyroid disease
  • Multiple gestations

What are some common feelings women have when they are told they have Gestational Diabetes?

Many women feel anxious and fearful when they are first diagnosed. Some women even feel guilty that they have done something wrong to cause themselves to develop GDM. These feelings are normal and should be discussed with your diabetes educator. It is important to know that there is nothing you have done to cause yourself to develop gestational diabetes.

Why is it important to treat my GDM?

By keeping your blood sugar within target range your baby is prevented from being exposed to high blood sugar. This will help reduce the complications that are associated with poorly controlled diabetes in pregnancy.

Having GDM can cause the following complications for your baby:

  • grow too large greater than 10lbs
  • low blood sugar at birth
  • trouble breathing at birth
  • may need to go to the neonatal intensive care unit
  • an increased risk for childhood obesity and diabetes

Our goal is to help you learn how to manage your sugar levels. Our GDM program is designed to give you the tools you need to make the changes necessary for the best possible outcome.