Gestational Diabetes

If you have any concerns or questions about Gestational diabetes speak to your GP or midwife - this information is a general overview and not intended as professional medical advice.

Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy (usually the second half). Unlike other forms of diabetes it is not permanent and in most cases disappears after birth. It is thought to be caused by pregnancy hormones stopping the hormone insulin from breaking down sugar. The sugar is then passed to the baby in high levels which can cause problems. It affects around one in 20 pregnancies.

Signs of gestational diabetes

Some women with gestational diabetes, experience being hungrier, thirstier and needing to wee more often. The problem with this is that they are also common factors in pregnancy anyway. Other women with the condition get no symptoms at all. Your midwife will regularly test your urine to check for sugar. You will also be screened for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy, although this may be as early as 16 weeks if you are thought have a higher risk.

The following increase your chances of developing gestational diabetes:

  • You are over 35.
  • You are obese.
  • If other family members have type II diabetes.
  • If you have previously had a stillborn baby.
  • If you have had a large baby.
  • If you have had a baby with some form of abnormality.

As with anything else prevention is better than cure. Eating a healthy diet and taking regular exercise can reduce the possibility of you getting gestational diabetes.

What affect will gestational diabetes have on me and my baby?

  • It can cause your unborn baby to grow bigger than normal. This may lead to you needing a caesarean section, to prevent complications during delivery.
  • Gestational diabetes can pose a serious health problem to you and your baby if it is not managed well.

Will I get gestational diabetes in any subsequent pregnancies?

 If you have had gestational diabetes in an earlier pregnancy then you have an increased chance of developing it again. You are also more likely to suffer with type II diabetes as you get older.

Treating gestational diabetes.

Most women can control their diabetes by healthy eating and gentle exercise. Your GP will give you a diet to follow; that is low in fat and sugar and contains plenty of fruit and veg and carbohydrates such as bread, potatoes, rice and pasta. You will also need to test your blood sugar at home, which is a simple process.

A small number of women find their diabetes does not respond adequately to the above changes. In these cases insulin is given. If you need to do this at home then your GP or practice nurse will show you how.

Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)

If too much insulin is present in the body then it can cause hypoglycaemia. If you are taking insulin then it is important to be aware of the symptoms of hypoglycaemia. They are:

  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Feeling weak
  • Hunger

You should always have a snack to hand, to eat if you experience these symptoms.

For more information contact Diabetes UK >> on 020 7424 1030 or go to