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Gestational diabetes care to expect before and after giving birth

If you have gestational diabetes, you and your baby will be monitored more closely during pregnancy.

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You should expect to have:

  • more frequent appointments with your midwife and healthcare team
  • more frequent blood and urine tests
  • more frequent ultrasound scans.

Appointments

Your healthcare team will work with you to ensure that your blood glucose levels are within target. You can get the most out of your appointments by taking the steps on this page:

During labour and birth

Women with diabetes are advised to give birth in a hospital, because arrangements can be better made to solve problems during birth. During labour and birth, your blood glucose levels will be monitored every hour to ensure they are between 4–7mmol/l. If your levels are outside of this target, you may need to use an intravenous treatment (drip).

Your baby will be kept with you unless the team has any concerns. Your baby will need to be fed soon after birth (within 30 minutes) and then every two to three hours. Their blood glucose will be tested every two to four hours, to prevent it from falling too low (neonatal hypoglycaemia). They will be monitored closely to make sure everything is OK. If your team has any concerns, they may transfer the baby to a neonatal unit for further monitoring and treatment.

You and your baby will be monitored in hospital for at least 24 hours before being discharged. Your healthcare team will have to be satisfied with your baby’s feeding and blood glucose levels.

What happens after I’ve had my baby?

Most women’s blood glucose levels return to normal after labour, so if you’re taking diabetes medication, this will be stopped immediately after birth. However, in some cases, pregnancy uncovers existing diabetes, so some women will need to continue receiving treatment for their condition.

After having gestational diabetes, you have an increased risk of developing the condition in future pregnancies, and you’re also more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes later on. There are a number of ways you can reduce these risks:

  • Have your blood glucose levels tested before you leave hospital.
  • Arrange a blood test for diabetes at your six-week postnatal check.
  • Look out for any symptoms of diabetes and arrange to see your GP/nurse if you are concerned. These may include: passing urine more often, especially at night; extreme tiredness; increased thirst; unexplained weight loss; slow healing of cuts and wounds.
  • Arrange to have an annual test for diabetes via your GP or nurse.
  • Continue with healthy eating and regular physical activity.
  • Take steps to manage your weight.
  • Get support if you need to lose weight from a dietitian or weight management group.
  • During future pregnancies, let your healthcare team know that you have a history of gestational diabetes. You will be given a blood glucose meter to test at home, and a test to check whether you have developed it again.
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