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
Often, gestational diabetes is managed by changing your diet and lifestyle alone, and your specialist team will give you advice on making these changes.
You will get a home testing kit so you can check your blood sugars regularly. Regular tests will help you and your team change your diet if your blood sugar levels go too high or low.
Diabetes medications during pregnancy
Some women will also need medications to keep their blood sugars in a good range. These medications can be either tablets, or injections of insulin. Your diabetes team will let you know if you need any medication.
In the lead up to 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 normally.
At every stage your diabetes team will help you and explain what you need and why.
Early births due to gestational diabetes
Women with gestational diabetes should give birth by 41 weeks of pregnancy. Birth should be in 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.