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Gestational Diabetes: Signs and Symptoms

Ziqian (Jasmine) Li. RD, CDCES, CNSC
December 21, 2020

Gestational diabetes (GDM) occurs during pregnancy when diabetes shows up during any trimester. Pregnant women often don’t recognize the symptoms and signs of GDM.

GDM occurs when your body cannot control blood glucose within a healthy range. This is usually linked to insulin resistance, which happens to all pregnant women. Most pregnant women can produce enough insulin to overcome the insulin resistance. However, those who cannot compensate for the insulin resistance develop GDM.

Here are some common signs and symptoms of GDM:

Excessive thirst with dry mouth

  • If you feel thirsty all the time without a clear reason, it is likely a symptom for GDM

Frequent urination

  • This happens to many pregnant women as the baby is pressing on the bladder. If you have both frequent urination and excessive thirst or dry mouth, it is likely a sign of having GDM.

Recurrent infections including thrush or yeast infection

  • Sugary urine will promote the growth of yeast and increase the risk of infection in the vaginal area

Light-headedness and Weakness

  • Having GDM may lead to light-headedness and weakness as your body is having trouble using the sugar in your blood.

Itching All Over the Body

  • It is easy to ignore this mild symptom. The itching can be mistaken with dry skin or bug bites.

Because the symptoms are not always noticeable, it is recommended that you talk to your doctor when you plan to have a baby. Your doctor will check your risk of GDM along with other health risks for pregnancy. Once you are pregnant, you will also be introduced to some tests to screen you for GDM as a part of your prenatal care. If you develop GDM, you may need more tests throughout the pregnancy. Treatment that includes medication, diet, and exercise will be included depending on how well the GDM is controlled. During the last trimester, your doctor will also closely monitor the health of the baby to make sure there are no associated complications. With careful attention to diet, exercise, and blood sugar monitoring, a healthy baby can be the result.