Harold Hamm Oklahoma Diabetes Center

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About Gestational Diabetes

Pregnant women who have never had diabetes before but who have high blood sugar levels during pregnancy are said to have gestational diabetes. We don’t know what causes gestational diabetes, but we have some clues. The placenta supports the baby as it grows. Hormones from the placenta help the baby develop. But these hormones also block the action of the mother’s insulin in her body. This problem is called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance makes it hard for the mother’s body to use insulin. She may need up to three times as much insulin.

Gestational diabetes starts when your body is not able to make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy. Without enough insulin, glucose cannot leave the blood and be changed to energy. Glucose builds up in the blood to high levels. This is called hyperglycemia.

Your doctor will decide when you need to be checked for diabetes depending on your risk factors.

  • If you are at high risk, your blood glucose level may be checked at your first prenatal visit. If your test results are normal, you will be checked again sometime between weeks 24 and 28 of your pregnancy.
  • If you have an average risk for gestational diabetes, you will be tested sometime between weeks 24 and 28 of pregnancy.
  • If you are at low risk, your doctor may decide that you do not need to be checked.