What is it?
In diabetes, the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood becomes higher than normal. A hormone called insulin normally helps take glucose out of the blood so it can be used for energy. During pregnancy, other hormones produced by the placenta stop the mother’s insulin from working properly. In most pregnancies, the mother makes extra insulin to compensate for this, but some women cannot make enough insulin to meet the extra demand and this leads to gestational diabetes.
Why is it important to manage it?
Having high amounts of glucose in your blood can complicate your pregnancy and your delivery, and can endanger your baby’s health. With proper management, most women have a normal pregnancy, a normal delivery and a healthy baby. Management focuses on bringing blood glucose levels down to normal levels. This can usually be done with healthy food choices, meal planning and staying active, but some women may also need insulin injections during their pregnancy.
What can I do to manage it?
Work with your pregnancy and diabetes team to develop a management plan that suits you and your family. Your midwife and doctor will give advice about how active you can be and continue to monitor you and your baby’s health. A dietitian can help you to develop a meal plan.
You will need to monitor your blood glucose levels at home during the pregnancy to make sure they stay in the target range to keep you and your baby healthy. A Credentialled Diabetes Educator can help learn how to do blood glucose monitoring and interpret the results.
What about life after gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a temporary form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy, but having it makes you more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life. You can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by healthy eating, daily physical activity, not smoking and aiming to maintain a healthy weight.
It is recommended that you have a test for diabetes after your baby is born to make sure that you did not already have type 2 diabetes that was just discovered during the pregnancy. It is also recommended that you have a diabetes test every 1–2 years thereafter, and when you decide to have more children.
Need more information?
Your doctor can refer you to health care professionals who can assist you. You will also find more information in our Resource links section.
Credentialled Diabetes Educators are health care professionals who have specialised in diabetes and participate in ongoing learning to make sure their knowledge and skills are up-to-date. To find a Credentialled Diabetes Educator (CDE) close to where you live or work, please click on ‘Find a CDE’ to return to our home page and start your search.