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Q: Does having gestational diabetes mean I’ll have diabetes for the rest of my life?

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. While most women return to normal blood sugar levels after they give birth, having diabetes during pregnancy can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Scientists don’t know exactly why some women develop gestational diabetes. Hormone levels change a lot during pregnancy, so that could affect the hormones that regulate your blood sugar.

Some risk factors for gestational diabetes include being overweight, not being physically active, prediabetes, a family history of diabetes, and previously delivering a baby weighing more than nine pounds. Women who are African American, Native American, Asian, and Pacific Islander are also at higher risk.

Most women don’t notice any symptoms with gestational diabetes, so they first learn they have it when their doctor gives them a glucose test. If left untreated, gestational diabetes can lead to complications for both mother and baby, and can increase the risk of needing a C-section.

However, it can be treated with blood sugar monitoring and lifestyle changes, including eating a healthy diet and getting regular physical activity. Some women may also need insulin injections to help regulate their blood sugar during pregnancy.

Your doctor will want to check your blood sugar levels again around 6 to 12 weeks after delivery. Most women see their blood sugar levels return to normal, but your doctor may want to monitor you more closely for signs of diabetes or prediabetes in the future.