Gestational diabetes (also known as gestational diabetes mellitus or GDM), is a condition singular to pregnant women. It is relatively common and can be managed with the help of a physician. According to the NICHD (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development), GDM occurs in about five percent of all pregnancies (roughly 200,000 cases) per year in the United States.
What happens when you have GDM? Normally, your stomach and intestines break down the carbohydrates in the food you eat, turning it into a sugar called glucose (your body's main source of energy). After digestion, glucose moves into your blood to give your body energy.
The trick comes in getting the glucose out of your blood and into the cells of your body. In order to do this, your pancreas makes a hormone called insulin. But, if you have diabetes, your body doesn't create enough insulin or your cells don't use it the way they should. And instead, glucose collects and builds up in your blood, causing diabetes, or high blood sugar.
So, how do you find out if you have GDM? Your OB will administer a glucose screening test between weeks 24 and 28 of your pregnancy. You'll drink a sweet, soda-like concoction, and then your doctor will test your blood glucose levels. If you test positive, you and your healthcare provider will manage this condition together.
To help you better understand GDM, a good place to start is by learning the lingo. Here's a helpful glossary of common terms your doctor will you with you when discussing your condition. Remember, GDM is manageable; try not to worry. As long as you keep an open line of communication with your doctor, you and Baby will weather this pregnancy with grace and ease!
A type of food, usually from plants versus animals. Carbohydrates include simple carbohydrates (sugar, fruit) and complex carbohydrates (vegetables, starches). One of three nutrients that supply calories to the body.
A disorder that prevents the body from converting digested food into the energy needed for daily activities.
One of three nutrients that supply calories to the body. Included are vegetable oil, lard, margarine, butter, shortening, mayonnaise, and salad dressing.
Glucose tolerance test
A blood test used to diagnose diabetes, including gestational diabetes. After drinking a liquid containing 100 grams of glucose, blood is drawn every hour for three hours. Two or more abnormally elevated blood sugar levels indicate gestational diabetes.
Healthcare professionals who specialize in the management of certain conditions. In the case of gestational diabetes, the healthcare providers may include an obstetrician, an internist, a diabetologist, a registered dietitian, a qualified nutritionist, a diabetes educator, and a neonatologist.