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.

If you are found to have gestational diabetes, this is likely to be a worrying time for you. It is natural to want your pregnancy to go smoothly and it is normal to be anxious if something unexpected happens. But once gestational diabetes is diagnosed, you will have extra appointments and specialists who will help you navigate your pregnancy safely.

The important thing to remember is that if you follow the advice, you can help reduce the risks to you and your baby. For most women, having gestational diabetes will mean the following:

This does mean that your experience of pregnancy may be different from what you had expected. But there is support out there – from your diabetes team and from your midwife.

"Gestational diabetes sounded like something small to me, but it was big. It changes your whole pregnancy – I couldn’t have the birth I wanted. It preyed on my mind and I started creating problems in my head, but looking at my son, you’d never know that anything had happened at all.Kate, mum of one

As gestational diabetes can be a warning of possible later type 2 diabetes, it gives you the chance to make lifestyle changes that may reduce your risks of developing diabetes in later life.

You will have more regular appointments and will see more specialist healthcare professionals. 

Extra appointments during your pregnancy

As soon as you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes through tests, you will be offered an appointment with a specialist team within one week. It will probably be at your local pregnancy diabetes clinic and should start to receive extra care straight away.

At this point you should have the HbA1c test to check whether you had type 2 diabetes before you became pregnant. 

You will have contact with the diabetes and antenatal team every one to two weeks throughout your pregnancy. This may be clinic appointments, or by phone or email to check that everything is fine. 

"At first it was quite overwhelming. I was a borderline case but all of a sudden you’ve got a dietician and an obstetrician. Before, it had been just the midwife."Michelle, mum of two

Monitoring your glucose levels

Once you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, one of the most important things that you will have to do for the rest of your pregnancy is to measure your blood glucose levels at points during each day. Your healthcare team will teach you how to do this for yourself. They will also review you regularly, to check your results and make sure your diet, exercise and any medication are keeping your blood glucose levels under control.

None of these things are complicated in themselves, but they can take some getting used to. Most people find that over time, they get into a routine, but for the first couple of weeks it may feel very new and a little overwhelming.

Read more about measuring your blood glucose levels here.

Read more about treating gestational diabetes with medication

Extra scans

As well as the routine scans offered to all pregnant women, you should be offered extra scans at various points through your pregnancy to check how your baby is growing and how much amniotic fluid you have. The timing of these scans may depend on your individual case.

These scans are important because one of the biggest risks in gestational diabetes is that the baby grows bigger than normal (macrosomia). This can cause complications when it comes to labour and giving birth.The team will need to check your baby’s size regularly and will talk to you about the best options for the birth of your baby. Towards the end of your pregnancy you will be checked very regularly to make sure that all is well.

"I was reassured that they were keeping an eye on me. At least I could see the baby was OK." Gemma, mum of one

Your team will give you plenty of information and advice about your care leading up to and after the birth. From around 38 weeks you will have appointments to check that your baby is doing well.

When to give birth

Your team will advise you to give birth no later than 40 weeks and 6 days if you are in England and Wales. Elective birth (by inducing labour or by caesarean section) will be offered if you have not given birth by this time.

In Scotland, you will be advised to have labour induced within 40 weeks.

Read more about giving birth with gestational diabetes

Read more on treatment for gestational diabetes


    Last reviewed on March 1st, 2015. Next review date March 1st, 2018.

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    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.

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