Managing gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is often managed by changing your diet and lifestyle during pregnancy plus support from a special diabetes team.

If your test shows that you might have gestational diabetes (also called gestational diabetes mellitus or GDM), you will get support from a diabetes team. This team will have specialist midwives and nurses, a dietitian and an obstetrician.

You’ll see your team regularly so they can help you in many ways, like explaining what gestational diabetes means for you and your baby.

Diet and lifestyle when you have gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is often managed by making changes to diet and lifestyle and your specialist team will help support you with making these changes.

You will get a home testing kit so you can check your blood sugars regularly.  Having regular blood sugar tests will help guide you and your team deciding the best diet and treatment for you as your pregnancy progresses.

Diabetes medications during pregnancy

In addition to making changes to diet and lifestyle, some women will need to take medications during pregnancy to keep their blood sugars within range. These medications can be tablets, insulin injections or a combination of these. Your diabetes team will work with you if you need these medications.

In the lead up to the birth

Women with gestational diabetes are advised to express milk and store it in a freezer, so they have extra breast milk if their baby needs it. This is called “colostrum harvesting”.

You may be offered extra ultrasound scans during pregnancy to check that your baby is growing well.

Your diabetes team will be able to help you through the pregnancy and will answer any questions you have about the treatment you are receiving.

Early births due to gestational diabetes

Women with gestational diabetes should give birth by 41 weeks of pregnancy. Birth should be in the hospital, so your blood glucose levels can be monitored and you and your baby can get specialist help if needed.

If your labour hasn’t started naturally by 41 weeks, you may be offered an induction of labour (this is where your labour is started artificially).

Induction can take anything from a few hours to a few days because there are several steps to it and some women need all steps while others don’t.

If your blood sugar levels are not well controlled, or there are concerns about the health of your baby, birth may be earlier than 41 weeks or by caesarean section.

You can discuss what sort of birth you would like with your midwife and doctor between 34 and 36 weeks of pregnancy.

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