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Testing and treatment for gestational diabetes

When you’re diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you should be given equipment so that you can regularly test your blood glucose levels at home.

It’s extremely important that you check your blood glucose levels regularly when you have gestational diabetes. If you haven’t been given a blood glucose meter yet, you should go and speak to your diabetes healthcare team as soon as possible and ask them to give you one.


Medication

Do I need to take medication?

Depending on your blood glucose levels when you were diagnosed with gestational diabetes, your diabetes healthcare team may advise you how to control diabetes with changes to your diet and physical activity levels without the need for medication. 

If changes in diet and physical activity don’t help you to stay within your blood glucose target range within one to two weeks, your healthcare team will offer medication and will talk you through the options. In some cases, your team may discuss medications with you at the time of diagnosis, without trialling dietary and physical activity changes first.

Even when medications are needed, changes to diet and physical activity are essential in helping to control your blood glucose levels.

Metformin

This is a medication that helps to reduce the amount of glucose produced by the liver and make your insulin work properly. It is taken with or after a meal.

Glibenclamide

This tablet works by stimulating your pancreas to make more insulin. It is taken with or immediately after food.

Insulin

Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose – the body’s main fuel – to enter the cells and to be used for energy. It can’t be taken orally, otherwise the stomach will digest it. It is usually given as an injection using a small needle. If you need insulin to treat your diabetes, your healthcare team will teach you how to inject safely.


Side effects

Even though the patient information leaflets (PIL) for metformin and glibenclamide state that these medications shouldn’t be used during pregnancy, both are used in the UK to help manage diabetes in pregnancy and lactation. There is strong evidence for their effectiveness and safety. Your diabetes healthcare team will consider the likely benefits from improved glycaemic control against any potential harm. Talk to your healthcare team if you have any worries.


Insulin Q&A

Can I inject into my abdomen?

You may be worried about injecting into the abdomen while pregnant, but with a short (4–6mm) needle, insulin can be delivered into the fatty layer safely. Avoid the area too close to your belly button. Speak to your healthcare team if you have concerns.

Will injecting into my abdomen hurt my baby?

Your baby is growing in the uterus, which is several layers below the skin. Insulin needles are very short and can’t touch your baby. Speak to your healthcare team about shorter needles.


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