The effect of gestational diabetes on blood sugar is much the same as the effect of Type 2 diabetes. Patients generally experience higher than normal blood glucose levels at various times of day, both after meals and after fasting. This is confirmed with several tests. Women may also feel tired more easily, but most do not have any symptoms of gestational diabetes before other than high blood sugar readings.
For the most part, the impact of gestational diabetes on blood sugar involves raising the levels to a higher than normal state. The cause is similar to what brings on Type 2 diabetes. When one consumes foods high in carbohydrates, the body releases an enzyme called insulin to break them down into a simple sugar called glucose. This sugar is used as the primary source of fuel by the body’s cells. Those who eat too many refined carbs or sugar produce more insulin than average and the body becomes resistant to its effects.
When the body becomes resistant to insulin, more has to be made in order to break down the excessive carbohydrates being consumed, which in turn leads to even more insulin production. Eventually the body can no longer process glucose as it should, and levels remain high in the blood for hours after eating. The effects of gestational diabetes on blood sugar happen in a similar way, but rather than being caused by a diet too high in carbohydrates, it is caused partly by hormones secreted by the placenta.
Hormones needed to support a healthy pregnancy may react with insulin in some women and lead to poorly processed glucose. While women who eat a diet high in sugar and refined carbs do have a higher risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy, they typically do not remain diabetic after giving birth. Many of these women will go on to develop Type 2 diabetes later in life if proper diet and exercise plans are not followed.
There are serious side effects of gestational diabetes on blood sugar that can lead to complications during delivery. Women who do not properly control the condition may have a baby that is much larger than normal. This can result in a cesarean section or other birth interventions. Additional health issues can also arise, although these are uncommon if a proper diet plan is followed during pregnancy. For most women, blood sugar levels return to normal within six weeks of giving birth.