Islets of Hope for persons newly diagnosed with diabetes

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Article by Lahle Wolfe. For reprint information e-mail:

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Gestational Diabetes: Gestational diabetes is a rare and not well  understood form of diabetes. It only appears in pregnancy and usually disappears afterward, but proper self-care during pregnancy is still crucial. Gestational Diabetes: What to Expect, a comprehensive guide for the woman with gestational diabetes, explains the proper elements of self-care, including nutritious meal planning, proper insulin therapy, and accurate blood sugar monitoring.

managing your gestational diabetes
Lois Jovanovic-Peterson

Managing Your Gestational Diabetes

101 tips for a healthy pregnancy with diabetes   
Patti Bazel Geil, et. al.
101 Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy with Diabetes:  
The newest installment in the American Diabetes Association's best-selling 101 Tips series helps women with diabetes cope with pregnancy using a quick, easy-to- read question-&-answer format. 101 Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy with Diabetes offers tips on topics such as pre-pregnancy; nutrition; managing medication; managing diabetes during pregnancy; making it through labor; postpartum; and much more.

Expected Baby Delivery Date Calculator

Newly Diagnosed Diabetes Information
Information for the Newly Diagnosed with Diabetes

What is gestational diabetes?

What is gestational diabetes (GD)?

Gestational diabetes is a form of type 2 diabetes that only occurs during pregnancy.  It is present in about 15% of all pregnancies and is usually detected at 24-28 weeks of pregnancy.   With GD diabetes the woman’s pancreas does produce insulin but it is insufficient to maintain normal blood sugar.  A woman’s body is capable of producing about three times the normal amount of insulin during pregnancy but sometimes the demands of pregnancy and certain lifestyle factors cause insulin resistance.  Insulin resistance simply means that the body stops responding to the effects of insulin.  When the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to keep blood sugar (also referred to as “blood sugar”) levels in normal ranges, the result is serious potential medical risks to both mother and baby.

When blood sugar levels become too high they need to be managed with lifestyle changes (diet and exercise) and possibly daily injections of insulin.  GD is not a form of type 1 diabetes (even if a person requires insulin during the pregnancy) where the beta islets cells in the pancreas are destroyed.  

Women who have a family history of diabetes, especially on the maternal side are more likely to develop gestational diabetes than other women.  As with type 1 and type 2, gestational diabetes is also greatly affected by non-genetic factors such as age (older women are more likely to develop gestational diabetes than young women) and being overweight.  

How is gestational diabetes treated?

Often GD can be treated with lifestyle changes including following a healthy meal plan and exercise.  If blood sugar cannot be controlled through lifestyle management, insulin via daily injections may be required (called “shot therapy”).  Untreated GD puts both the baby and mother at risk for serious health problems during the pregnancy, at birth, and later on in life for both mother and baby.  If you have GD, please take it seriously and work with your doctor to keep your blood sugar levels in target ranges.

Click on any link for more comprehensive information about gestational diabetes:

What is gestational diabetes (GD)?
Why did I develop GD?
What are the symptoms of GD?
Who is at risk?
How can I tell if I have GD? 
What is the diagnostic criteria for GD?
How is GD treated?
Do I have to take insulin?  Can’t I take oral medication instead?
After the baby is born, will I still have diabetes?
Will my baby have diabetes?
What are the concerns for my baby if I have GD?
What are some of the concerns for women associated with GD?



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Page Updated 05/21/2006