Curious how gestational diabetes affects you and your pregnancy? Here are the short term and long term effects.
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How does Gestational Diabetes Affect Pregnancy?
Short Term Effects
- Hypertension – high blood pressure
- Preeclampsia – hypertension and damage to organs
- C-section – increased risk due to various complicating factors
These are all potential effects, meaning there’s no guarantee any of them will or won’t happen. They’re all risky situations because you’re put under excessive stress, and consequently, so is your baby.
Gestational diabetes also affects your pregnancy by being more closely monitored and having to make lifestyle adjustments. This looks like:
- appointments with a dietitian to discuss and adjust your diet based on your glucose test and ongoing blood sugar readings.
- checking the nutrition labels on everything you eat and counting carbs to stay within limit.
- checking your blood sugar multiple times a day.
- extra appointments with an endocrinologist to review your blood sugars and have additional ultrasounds and non-stress tests (NSTs) to monitor the baby's growth and health.
- a new pool of emotions and frustrations, trying to get you blood sugars within range.
Does gestational diabetes go away?
Not in pregnancy. Even if you're able to maintain your blood sugars in a safe range, gestational diabetes won't go away.
Blood sugars naturally rise as pregnancy furthers - even in non gestational diabetes pregnancies - so your doctor will continue to monitor you as a gestational diabetes diagnosis through the end of pregnancy.
This is a good practice to ensure both of your safety.
Long Term Effects / After Pregnancy
Gestational diabetes goes away after birth. Some mothers’ blood sugars return to normal directly after birth, but others' don’t. Some even return to normal during breastfeeding, then “become problematic in the first few years after delivery” according to Lily Nichols.
If you continue to have high blood sugars after birth, you will be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
Up to 70% of women with gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years after birth, especially if fasting blood sugars were consistently high during pregnancy.
It’s recommended to get tested at your postpartum check up, then annually thereafter.
Although it's too late in this pregnancy, if you plan to be pregnant again, know that how you care for yourself in the preconception stage affects your pregnancy and birth outcomes.
This quick podcast episode addresses this and what researchers found (but you can listen later).
Learn how gestational diabetes affects the baby
Full gestational diabetes article with linked research.