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Gestational diabetes symptoms

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. It affects women who haven't already got a diagnosis of another type of diabetes.  It means you have high blood sugar and need to take extra care of yourself and your bump. This will include eating well and keeping active.  

It usually goes away again after giving birth.  

What are the symptoms of gestational diabetes?  

Signs and symptoms associated with gestational diabetes include: 

  • Going for a wee a lot, especially at night. 
  • Being really thirsty. 
  • Feeling more tired than usual. 
  • Genital itching or thrush. 
  • Blurred eyesight. 

You may have been shocked to find out that you have gestational diabetes – many women have no noticeable symptoms.

As some gestational diabetes symptoms are like symptoms experienced in pregnancy anyway - like feeling more tired or going to the toilet more - most cases are diagnosed during screening for gestational diabetes. This is called an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test, also known as an OGTT. 

The OGTT is usually done when you’re between 24-28 weeks pregnant. If you’ve had gestational diabetes before, you’ll be offered the OGTT or self-monitoring of your blood sugar levels at home early in your pregnancy. You’ll be shown how to do this and given a blood monitoring kit. 

What causes gestational diabetes? 

Lots of changes happen to your body during pregnancy. 

Along with the physical signs, the hormones you produce can make it hard for your body to use insulin properly. This puts you at an increased risk of insulin resistance, and some women can’t produce enough insulin to overcome it. 

This makes it difficult to use glucose (sugar) properly for energy, so it stays in your blood and the sugar levels rise. This then leads to gestational diabetes. 

Read more about the causes of gestational diabetes.

What happens to the baby if you have gestational diabetes? 

If you have gestational diabetes, most babies will still be born healthy, but it can lead to problems such as a large birth weight (which makes delivery more difficult and can mean you need induced labour or a caesarean section).  

Your baby could also develop low blood sugar or have yellowing skin or eyes (jaundice) after they are born, which may require treatment.  

Read about the possible complications of gestational diabetes.  

At what week does gestational diabetes develop? 

Gestational diabetes can develop at any stage of pregnancy, but is more common in the second or third trimester. It is usually diagnosed from a blood test 24 to 28 weeks into pregnancy.  After having gestational diabetes you will be offered a blood glucose test around 6-13 weeks after birth and then once every year due to the increased risk of type 2 diabetes.  

How do I know if I have gestational diabetes? 

If you develop any of the symptoms listed above, they could be a sign that you have gestational diabetes, but you should talk to your midwife about your concerns.  

Next Review Date
Content last reviewed
30 March 2023
Next review due
30 March 2026
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