About diabetes in pregnancy (gestational diabetes)

What is diabetes in pregnancy (gestational diabetes)?

Gestational diabetes is diabetes diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy (gestation). Like other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes affects how your cells use sugar (glucose). Gestational diabetes causes high blood sugar that can affect your pregnancy and your baby's health.

While any pregnancy complication is concerning, there's good news. During pregnancy you can help control gestational diabetes by eating healthy foods, exercising and, if necessary, taking medication. Controlling blood sugar can keep you and your baby healthy and prevent a difficult delivery.

If you have gestational diabetes during pregnancy, generally your blood sugar returns to its usual level soon after delivery. But if you've had gestational diabetes, you have a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes. You'll need to be tested for changes in blood sugar more often.

What are the symptoms for diabetes in pregnancy (gestational diabetes)?

Most of the time, gestational diabetes doesn't cause noticeable signs or symptoms. Increased thirst and more-Frequent urination are possible symptoms.

What are the causes for diabetes in pregnancy (gestational diabetes)?

Researchers don't yet know why some women get gestational diabetes and others don't. Excess weight before pregnancy often plays a role.

Usually, various hormones work to keep blood sugar levels in check. But during pregnancy, hormone levels change, making it harder for the body to process blood sugar efficiently. This makes blood sugar rise.

What are the treatments for diabetes in pregnancy (gestational diabetes)?

Treatment for gestational diabetes includes:

  • Lifestyle changes
  • Blood sugar monitoring
  • Medication, if necessary

Managing your blood sugar levels helps keep you and your baby healthy. Close management can also help you avoid complications during pregnancy and delivery.

Lifestyle changes

Your lifestyle — how you eat and move — is an important part of keeping your blood sugar levels in a healthy range. Health care providers usually don't advise losing weight during pregnancy — your body is working hard to support your growing baby. But your health care provider can help you set weight gain goals based on your weight before pregnancy.

Lifestyle changes include:

  • Healthy diet. A healthy diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein — foods that are high in nutrition and fiber and low in fat and calories — and limits highly refined carbohydrates, including sweets. A registered dietitian or a certified diabetes care and education specialist can help you create a meal plan based on your current weight, pregnancy weight gain goals, blood sugar level, exercise habits, food preferences and budget.
  • Staying active. Regular physical activity plays a key role in every wellness plan before, during and after pregnancy. Exercise lowers your blood sugar. As an added bonus, regular exercise can help relieve some common discomforts of pregnancy, including back pain, muscle cramps, swelling, constipation and trouble sleeping.

With your health care provider's OK, aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week. If you haven't been active for a while, start slowly and build up gradually. Walking, cycling and swimming are good choices during pregnancy. Everyday activities such as housework and gardening also count.

Blood sugar monitoring

While you're pregnant, your health care team may ask you to check your blood sugar four or more times a day — first thing in the morning and after meals — to make sure your level stays within a healthy range.


If diet and exercise aren't enough to manage your blood sugar levels, you may need insulin injections to lower your blood sugar. A small number of women with gestational diabetes need insulin to reach their blood sugar goals.

Some health care providers prescribe an oral medication to manage blood sugar levels. Other health care providers believe more research is needed to confirm that oral medications are as safe and as effective as injectable insulin to manage gestational diabetes.

Close monitoring of your baby

An important part of your treatment plan is close observation of your baby. Your health care provider may check your baby's growth and development with repeated ultrasounds or other tests. If you don't go into labor by your due date — or sometimes earlier — your health care provider may induce labor. Delivering after your due date may increase the risk of complications for you and your baby.

Follow-up after delivery

Your health care provider will check your blood sugar level after delivery and again in 6 to 12 weeks to make sure that your level has returned to within the standard range. If your tests are back in this range — and most are — you'll need to have your diabetes risk assessed at least every three years.

If future tests indicate type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, talk with your health care provider about increasing your prevention efforts or starting a diabetes management plan.

What are the risk factors for diabetes in pregnancy (gestational diabetes)?

Risk factors for gestational diabetes include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Not being physically active
  • Having prediabetes
  • Having had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy
  • Having polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Having an immediate family member with diabetes
  • Having previously delivered a baby weighing more than 9 pounds (4.1 kilograms)
  • Being of a certain race or ethnicity, such as Black, Hispanic, American Indian and Asian American

Is there a cure/medications for diabetes in pregnancy (gestational diabetes)?

If possible, visit a doctor when you first plan to get pregnant, so your doctor can check if there is any risk of gestational diabetes.

Cure/medications for diabetes in pregnancy (gestational diabetes)

  • Gestational diabetes is a kind of diabetes that only occurs during pregnancy. Hence, this type of diabetes goes away usually after the delivery of the baby.
  • However, frequent check-ups are required to ensure your sugar levels are back to normal.
  • You must receive proper treatment for gestational diabetes since it results in fewer problems and complications during pregnancy.
  • Certain lifestyle changes as part of treatment include maintaining a proper diet (as advised by the doctor), regular exercise (as advised b the doctor) and nutrition therapy.
  • You may also try medications if the above treatment is insufficient, such as Insulin, Metformin and Glyburide.
  • These are some of the treatments and medications you can take during pregnancy to maintain the sugar levels in your bloodstream.

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