What is pregnancy (gestational) diabetes?

What is pregnancy diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops only during pregnancy. In gestational diabetes, blood sugar levels rise. It often develops between the 24th-28th week of pregnancy when the placenta produces hormones reducing insulin efficiency.



For most women, gestational diabetes doesn’t cause noticeable signs or symptoms. If possible, seek health care early — when you first think about trying to get pregnant — so your doctor can evaluate your risk of gestational diabetes as part of your overall childbearing wellness plan. Once you’re pregnant, your doctor will address gestational diabetes as part of your prenatal care.

It is important to know that:

  • You can control gestational diabetes.
  • You can have a healthy baby.
  • After pregnancy, blood sugar levels return to normal.


Women who are more likely to have gestational diabetes:

  • Had gestational diabetes in past pregnancies.
  • Delivered their babies in the past with over 4 kg weight.
  • Are overweight.
  • Have first-degree relatives who have diabetes.
  • Have an impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose.
  • Preeclampsia.
  • Obstructed labor.
  • Higher risk of type 2 diabetes during the next 7-10 years.
  • Overweight baby.
  • Premature baby.
  • Risk of injury during labor.
  • Lower blood sugar levels after delivery.
  • Obesity during childhood.
  • Type 2 diabetes during lifetime.


How can I manage gestational diabetes?

  • Follow a diet plan with the help of a medical nutrition therapist.
  • Check your blood sugar levels and urine ketones at home.
  • Ask your doctor about your required blood sugar levels.
  • Exercise regularly, take a doctor or fitness trainer’s recommendation.
  • Make sure you coordinate regularly with your healthcare team, including the diabetes specialist, OB/GYN, and nutritionist. Your healthcare team is there to help you control and optimize your blood sugar levels during pregnancy.


Will I be Ok after Delivery?

After Delivery, your body begins to recover from the hard work of pregnancy and delivery. Usually new mothers have better blood glucose control in the first few weeks after delivery. For others, it’s a period of odd blood glucose swings. It is best to check your blood glucose levels very frequently following delivery to avoid either high or low blood glucose levels until you get an idea of how much insulin your body needs.

If you have gestational diabetes, there is a very good chance that your diabetes will go away immediately after the delivery, especially, if your diabetes was controlled with only a meal plan and exercise during pregnancy. You should continue to check your blood glucose levels for at least several days to make sure your diabetes is actually gone.
Women with a history of gestational diabetes frequently develop type 2 diabetes later, so check with your healthcare team and get your type 2 diabetes checked, every 1–3 years.