HealthSheets™


Understanding Blood Sugar During Pregnancy

Cross section of uterus showing fetus, placenta, and umbilical cord.Gestational diabetes causes high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. You are at risk of developing, or perhaps have already developed, gestational diabetes. Controlling your blood sugar can help prevent problems for you and your baby.

Your body turns food into blood sugar

As food is digested, it turns into sugar (glucose), a fuel that feeds your body. This sugar goes into your bloodstream. Your body then releases a substance called insulin to help your body use blood sugar properly.

Blood sugar goes to your baby

The placenta is where nutrients in your blood are exchanged with your baby’s blood. Your blood sugar goes to your baby from the placenta through the umbilical cord. Your baby uses this sugar to grow.

Too much blood sugar affects you and your baby

During pregnancy, the placenta makes hormones that can disrupt the way your body uses insulin. If your body can’t use insulin properly, your blood sugar level gets too high. Then too much blood sugar goes to your baby. This can cause problems for both you and your baby.

Controlling your blood sugar helps prevent problems

You can lower your blood sugar by eating right, exercising, and taking medicines that your healthcare provider prescribes to control your blood sugar. If you keep your blood sugar in control, the risks to you and your baby are the same as those for a normal pregnancy.

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