Gestational diabetes, which occurs when pregnancy hormones interfere with the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, is actually difficult to diagnose through symptoms alone because it mimics typical pregnancy complaints. This is why in 2014, the U.S. Preventative Task Force recommended gestational diabetes screening for all pregnant women after 24 weeks, a test in which you drink a sweet liquid to see how your body handles the sugar. But there are some signs that, if you experience them together, should prompt a call to your doctor. One such symptom is blurred vision. “When blood glucose is high, the water content of the eye structures is affected, making it harder to focus,” says Clara Ward, MD, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. “It can be a chronic vision problem if the sugars are always high, or sudden and transient after a very indulgent meal.” Once your blood sugar is under control, your vision should go back to normal.
It’s totally normal to be tired during pregnancy due to hormonal changes—according to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation, 78 percent of women had more disturbed sleep during pregnancy, and up to 60 percent took naps. But excessive fatigue can also be one symptom of gestational diabetes. “When sugars are high, your cells and organs can’t get and use the oxygen and nutrients they need to produce energy,” Dr. Ward says. “Fatigue is the body’s way of trying to get us to rest.”
Feeling thirsty is typical in pregnancy—you need extra fluid to build up your blood volume and help your kidneys flush out excess waste. But according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, it’s also one of the main symptoms of diabetes—including gestational diabetes. “When blood sugar is high, the body pulls water from the cells to dilute the level of sugar in the blood,” Dr. Ward says. “High sugars also overwhelm the kidneys, preventing them from reabsorbing water.” Make sure you’re drinking enough water to avoid dehydration—the Institute of Medicine recommends about 10 eight-ounce glasses of fluid a day during pregnancy. Continued thirst beyond that warrants a call to your doctor. Check out these unexpected signs of dehydration.