In most circumstances, you'll find out that you have gestational diabetes as the result of a screening test performed routinely during your pregnancy. If your blood sugar tests high, you'll likely be asked to come in for an appointment promptly. Your doctor will also schedule more-frequent regular prenatal appointments to monitor the course of your pregnancy.
Because appointments can be brief and there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to prepare ahead of time for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment and know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. When you make your appointment, ask if you need to fast for blood work or if there's anything else you need to do to prepare for diagnostic tests.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to gestational diabetes. Although gestational diabetes often doesn't cause any noticeable symptoms, it's a good idea to keep a log of anything unusual that you notice.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, including over-the-counter drugs and vitamins or supplements, that you're taking.
- Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to soak up all the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
Questions to ask your doctor
Because time with your doctor is limited, writing down a list of questions will help you make the most of your appointment. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For gestational diabetes, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What can I do to help control my condition?
- Can you recommend a dietitian or diabetes educator who can help me plan meals, an exercise program, and coping strategies that will work best for me? Will my insurance cover this advice?
- What will determine whether I need medication to control my blood sugar?
- What symptoms should prompt me to seek medical attention?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?
In addition to the questions you've prepared ahead of time, don't hesitate to ask your doctor to clarify anything you don't understand.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is also likely to have questions for you, especially if you're seeing him or her for the first time. Being ready to respond may free up time to focus on any points you want to talk about in-depth. Your doctor may ask:
- Have you experienced any increased thirst or excessive urination? If so, when did these symptoms start? How often do you have them?
- Have you noticed any other unusual symptoms?
- Do you have a parent or sibling who's ever been diagnosed with diabetes?
- Have you been pregnant before? Did you have gestational diabetes during your previous pregnancies?
- Did you have any other problems in earlier pregnancies?
- If you have other children, how much did each weigh at birth?
- Have you gained or lost a lot of weight at any time in your life?
What you can do in the meantime
You can take steps to control gestational diabetes with healthy choices as soon as you're diagnosed. If your doctor recommends further evaluation, make your follow-up appointments as soon as possible. Every week counts for you and your baby. Follow your doctor's advice, and take good care of yourself. Eat healthy foods, exercise and take time to learn as much as you can about gestational diabetes.
Mar. 24, 2011
- Cunningham FG, et al. Diabetes. In: Cunningham FG, et al. Williams Obstetrics. 23rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2010. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=46. Accessed Dec. 27, 2010.
- Strehlow SL, et al. Diabetes mellitus & pregnancy. In: DeCherney AH, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Obstetrics & Gynecology. 10th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2007. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=9. Accessed Dec. 27, 2010.
- Reece EA, et al. Diabetes mellitus and pregnancy. In: Gibbs RS, et al. Danforth's Obstetrics and Gynecology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Wolters Kluwer Health Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2008. http://www.danforthsobgyn.com. Accessed Dec. 27, 2010.
- Caughey AB. Obstetrical management of pregnancies complicated by gestational diabetes mellitus. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 27, 2010.
- Jovanovic L. Treatment and course of gestational diabetes mellitus. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 27, 2010.
- Jovanovic L. Screening and diagnosis of diabetes mellitus during pregnancy. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 27, 2010.
- Paglia MJ, et al. Gestational diabetes: Evolving diagnostic criteria. Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology. In press. http://journals.lww.com/co-obgyn/Abstract/publishahead/Gestational_diabetes__evolving_diagnostic_criteria.99838.aspx. Accessed Feb.1, 2011.
- Kim C. Gestational diabetes: Risks, management, and treatment options. International Journal of Women's Health. 2010;2:339.
- Blatt AJ, et al. Gaps in diabetes screening during pregnancy and postpartum. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2011;117:161.
- HAPO Study Cooperative Research Group. Hyperglycemia and adverse pregnancy outcomes. New England Journal of Medicine. 2008;358:1991.
- Metzger BE, et al. International Association of Diabetes and Pregnancy Study Groups Recommendations on the Diagnosis and Classification of Hyperglycemia in Pregnancy. Diabetes Care. 2010;33:676.
- Manning FA. The fetal biophysical profile. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 31, 2010.
- Standards of medical care in diabetes — 2011. Diabetes Care. 2011;34(suppl):11.
- Health care guideline: Routine prenatal Care. Bloomington, Minn.: Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement. 2010. http://www.icsi.org/prenatal_care_4/prenatal_care__routine__full_version__2.htm. Accessed Feb. 1, 2011.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Practice Bulletin. Clinical management guidelines for obstetrician-gynecologists. Number 30, September 2001 (replaces Technical Bulletin Number 200, December 1994). Gestational diabetes. Obstetrics and gynecology. 2001;98:525.