FAQ059: What is gestational diabetes?

Diabetes is a growing concern for the Canadian and American populations.

Gestational Diabetes is no different.

Gestational diabetes refers to diabetes that occurs during a woman’s pregnancy. It affects about 2-3% of women during the course of their pregnancy. However this number can go up to 20% for women who have diabetes risk factors before they get pregnant.

Some of these risk factors include

  • Being over the age of 35
  • Having had a baby over 9 lbs in the past
  • Having polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Having pre diabetes
  • Being obese (BMI over 30)
  • Having had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy.

The reason why gestational diabetes develops is often due to the presence of one of these risk factors in combination with the change in hormones that happens as you progress through a pregnancy.

It’s important that you get your blood sugar checked.

If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, it is important for your health and the health of the baby that you regulate your blood sugar. Having diabetes during your pregnancy is a risk factor for diabetes later on in your life.

Don’t worry… gestational diabetes doesn’t mean that your baby is going to have diabetes. Your baby will likely be born healthy and happy!

It is important that you regulate your blood sugar. Failing to regulate your blood sugar can increase the risk of a higher baby weight (over 9 lbs). Unregulated blood sugar can also lead to more complications during labour and delivery.

If this is you, you will be followed closely by your health care team. Keeping up with a healthy diet, watching the amount of weight gained during your pregnancy, and continuing to exercise are all important aspects of maintenance (but would be even if you didn’t have gestational diabetes!).

Want to learn a little bit more about diabetes?



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Christina Prevett

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