Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy. It is also known as ‘hyperglycaemia in pregnancy’.

If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, or you have been told you are at risk, it is natural to feel concerned. But gestational diabetes is fairly common: it affects around one in 20 pregnancies.

In the UK, all pregnant women who are considered at risk are offered a test for gestational diabetes during pregnancy. This is because identifying and treating the condition reduces the risks to you and your baby. Women are sometimes surprised to find out they have the condition as it’s often picked up before it shows any obvious symptoms.

There are several medical treatments that can help with gestational diabetes. However, some women are able to manage it through diet and other lifestyle factors. This means that, with the support of your specialist team, you have an important role in keeping you and your baby healthy through your pregnancy.

Information about gestational diabetes

  • Nurse showing woman test results.

    What are the risks of gestational diabetes?

    If you have gestational diabetes, you will have been told that gestational diabetes holds risks to the mother and baby, but women tell us they are not always clear exactly what those risks are.

  • Woman drinking a glass of water

    Symptoms of gestational diabetes

    Women with gestational diabetes often do not have any symptoms at all, and this is why women are all monitored for it by routine checks in pregnancy.

  • Pregnant woman in third trimester having blood glucose levels checked.

    Causes of gestational diabetes

    Clinicians and researchers do not understand yet exactly why some women get gestational diabetes and others don't, but we know that there are some life and family factors that make it more likely in some women.

  • Woman talking to health professional.

    Gestational diabetes and your mental wellbeing

    Most women are daunted initially by the unfamiliar territory they find themselves in with gestational diabetes. Find some tips here on how to cope mentally.

  • Woman at appointment with health professional.

    Testing for gestational diabetes

    Gestational diabetes is one of the conditions that midwives will be looking out for during your normal appointment schedule. If you have it, it will be spotted through tests.

  • Pregnant woman carrying yoga mat and water bottle.

    Treatment for gestational diabetes

    Gestational diabetes is treated by making changes to diet and exercise to manage blood sugar levels, and using medication if necessary.

  • Woman having blood pressure checked.

    What is gestational diabetes?

    Gestational diabetes is a condition that can develop during pregnancy. It is a type of diabetes – a condition in which your body can’t control the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood.

  • Happy pregnant woman in hospital bed.

    Gestational diabetes and giving birth

    Today, for women with gestational diabetes, the emphasis is on trying to keep the birth as normal as possible unless there is a particular reason to do things differently.


  1. Diabetes UK (2014) Diabetes facts and stats. Available at:
  2. NHS Choices [accessed August 2014] Gestational diabetes - Complications Review date: 08/2016.
  3. NICE (2015) Diabetes in pregnancy: management of diabetes and its complications from preconception to the postnatal period, National Institute of Health and Care Excellence
  4. NHS Choices (2012) Gestational diabetes - symptoms [accessed August 2014] (Review date: 08/2016)
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Last reviewed on March 1st, 2015. Next review date March 1st, 2018.

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