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Gestational Diabetes Symptoms

Gestational diabetes rarely causes any noticeable symptoms. This can make it difficult to spot outside of routine screenings. All pregnant women should expect to be screened for gestational diabetes between the 24th and 28th weeks of their pregnancy.

Last Modified: September 5, 2023
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What Are the Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes?

Typical cases of gestational diabetes do not present with symptoms. If the condition progresses and symptoms do emerge, they are often mild and can be mistaken for typical effects of pregnancy.

Symptoms can include:
  • Increased urination
  • Feeling hungrier or thirstier than normal
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

If gestational diabetes goes untreated, or if your blood sugar spikes too high, you may start to experience more severe diabetes symptoms. Some women who experience these severe symptoms may also have undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes.

Severe symptoms may include:
  • Blurry vision
  • Higher risk of miscarriage
  • Higher risk of cesarean section
  • Unexplained weight loss

Because symptoms are not typical with gestational diabetes, the condition is usually discovered during routine screenings. The test most commonly used is a glucose challenge test, which can also be part of diabetes tests for Type 2.

Gestational diabetes most commonly develops between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy. Because of the known timing of the illness, this is also the time doctors schedule screenings for their pregnant patients.

All pregnant women should be screened as part of their prenatal care. This is especially important for women who have a family history of diabetes or themselves have a history of gestational diabetes during previous pregnancies.

When to See a Doctor

Obstetricians and midwives schedule screenings for gestational diabetes as a part of standard prenatal care. Women should discuss a history of gestational diabetes with their midwife as early as possible in their pregnancy.

Talk to your doctors immediately if you have any symptoms of diabetes before your screening test. They will test for diabetes and administer treatment, if necessary.

They may also give you advice on how to lower blood sugar if you are pre-diabetic or otherwise at risk for diabetes.

Managing Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes and its symptoms can be managed with a comprehensive plan your medical team will put together. Between 70 to 85% of women with gestational diabetes can manage the condition without medication through lifestyle changes alone. However, some women may need prescription medication to keep gestational diabetes under control.

Your doctors may recommend following a specific gestational diabetes diet for the duration of your pregnancy. The diet is similar to a typical diabetes diet, but it has tighter restrictions. Some of the diet’s general recommendations include:

  • Eating three meals and two to three snacks a day
  • Limiting starchy foods to one serving with each meal (around 1 cup of pasta, potatoes, or other starches or two pieces of bread)
  • Limiting foods with sugars (no more than 25% of your daily carbohydrates)
  • Increasing your intake of high fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grain

Gestational diabetes usually goes away following the birth of your baby. But it is important to manage the condition during pregnancy to avoid serious potential birth complications. Uncontrolled gestational diabetes can develop into Type 2 diabetes after delivery.

Diabetes statistics indicate that women who experience gestational diabetes are at greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life, even if their blood sugar returns to normal after delivery. If you are concerned about this risk, ask your doctor for additional health information after your baby is born.

You can also continue to follow the diet and exercise regime you followed during your pregnancy. Many of the guidelines for managing gestational diabetes can help to prevent diabetes later in life.

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.