What are some complications of gestational diabetes?

Since insulin resistance generally does not develop until the 24th week of pregnancy, birth defects are not a common complication of gestational diabetes. (Birth defects generally occur during the first 13 weeks of pregnancy.)

Gestational diabetes may increase your risk of developing high blood pressure during pregnancy.

Labor and delivery are generally not affected by gestational diabetes. However, if the baby has grown too large, or if your blood pressure is high, a cesarean delivery may be necessary.

It’s important to carefully control blood sugar levels during labor so that the baby doesn’t develop a high insulin level (because of a high blood sugar level in the mother). If this happens, the baby’s blood sugar can drop very low after birth, since it won’t be receiving the high blood sugar from the mother. A glucose solution (sugar solution) may be given to your newborn.

What happens to my baby after delivery?

Your baby’s blood sugar level will be tested immediately after birth. If the blood sugar is low, your baby will be given sugar water to drink, or by an intravenous tube in the vein. Your baby may be sent to a special care nursery for observation during the first few hours after birth to make sure he or she doesn’t have a low blood sugar reaction.

If you had gestational diabetes, there is an increased risk that your newborn will develop jaundice. Jaundice is a yellow discoloration of the skin that occurs when there is bilirubin in the baby’s blood. Bilirubin is a pigment that causes jaundice and is released when extra red blood cells build up in the blood and can’t be processed fast enough. Jaundice goes away rapidly with treatment; one form of treatment is to expose your baby to special lights that get rid of the pigment.

Since I have gestational diabetes, does it mean my baby will have diabetes?

Gestational diabetes does not cause your baby to have diabetes. Your child’s risk of developing diabetes is related to family history, body weight, eating habits, and exercise. Give your baby a healthy start by breastfeeding him or her.

Will I still have diabetes after I deliver my baby?

Usually, blood sugar levels return to normal after childbirth because the placenta, which was producing the extra hormones that caused insulin resistance, is delivered. After your baby is born, your doctor will check your blood sugar level to make sure it has returned to normal. Some doctors recommend an oral glucose tolerance test 6-12 weeks after delivery to check for diabetes, and then every 1-3 years.

Women who have had gestational diabetes have a 60% increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. Because of this risk, you should have your blood sugar level checked during your regular health checkups. By maintaining an ideal body weight, following a healthy meal plan, and exercising, you will be able to reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Breastfeeding your baby may help you lose your pregnancy weight.

In addition, women who have gestational diabetes during one pregnancy have a 40-50% chance of developing diabetes in the next pregnancy. If you had gestational diabetes during one pregnancy and are planning to get pregnant again, talk to your doctor first so that you can make the necessary lifestyle changes before your next pregnancy.

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