Gestational Diabetes

What is Gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) occurs in pregnant women who do not already have diabetes. It often develops later in pregnancy, when the body makes large amounts of hormones to help the baby grow.  These hormones prevent insulin from working in the way that it should.  When this happens your blood glucose rises.

The factors below can increase your risk of developing GDM:

  • Ethnic origin group                             

  • Overweight/obese                                  

  • Family history of diabetes                     

  • Older than 25 years                              

  • GDM in past pregnancies                     

  • Still birth/ large baby

When you are diagnosed with GDM you will see a diabetes specialist nurse and dietician for an education session.

Diet and Gestational diabetes

When you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes your Diabetes Specialist Nurse or midwife will give you a dietsheet and information about accessing a virtual education session with the dietitian.

These videos will help explain a suitable diet. You will get more out of the virtual education session if you have already watched either or both of these videos. During the virtual session the dietitian will be able to answer any questions you have about your diet.

The virtual education sessions are held every Wednesday at 10am and last about 30 minutes.

A video on Gestational Diabetes by our Dietitians

Healthy Eating for Gestational Diabetes

Guide on Virtual Group Education Sessions

This guide contains further information about how to access the virtual education session with the dietitian. The URL address you need to access the session is contained in the leaflet provided by your midwife or Diabetes Specialist Nurse. Please ask if you have not received this.

pdf Open the Guide here (271 KB)

Blood glucose monitoring

Blood glucose monitoring

When to test?

You will be asked to test your blood glucose four times daily:

  • before breakfast
  • one hour after breakfast
  • one hour after lunch
  • one hour after evening meal.

What levels do I aim for?

Before breakfast readings of under 5.3 mmol/mol

One hour after meal readings of under 7.8 mmol/mol

If two of these readings are above the target then you need to contact your diabetes specialist nurse.

Will I always have diabetes?

Will I always have diabetes?

Gestational diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born, but in a few women, diabetes becomes permanent and it is important that you are tested for this.  You will be offered a glucose test six weeks following delivery.

You are at risk of developing diabetes later in life.  It is important that you maintain a healthy diet, control your weight and exercise regularly.

Why do I need to keep blood glucose readings within target?

Why do I need to keep blood glucose readings within target?

When you are diagnosed with GDM if blood glucose levels are not tightly controlled it will put the mother at increased risks of: 

  • High blood pressure and protein in urine
  • Caesarean section

If blood glucose are not tightly controlled there is also an increased risk to the baby of the following:

  • Large baby

  • Shoulder dystocia occurs unexpectedly during childbirth. It is when the baby’s head has been born but one of the shoulders becomes stuck behind the mother’s pelvicbone, preventing the birth of the baby’s body.

  • Low blood glucose for the baby on birth.

Preparing for birth

Preparing for birth

Your healthcare team will discuss with you the best way to deliver your baby. The aim is for a normal labour and birth where possible. It is not usually advisable for your pregnancy to go beyond 38 – 39 weeks.

Care of your diabetes after your baby is born

Care of your diabetes after your baby is born

If you have gestational diabetes you can usually stop all treatment once your baby is born. You should have a glucose test usually about six weeks after your baby is born, ask the midwife if this as been arranged.

You are at risk of developing gestational diabetes in future pregnancies so the diabetes team need to be informed as soon as you become pregnant.