Managing gestational diabetes
Steps to a healthy pregnancy
If you’ve just been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, don’t panic.
- About one in seven Australian women has gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
- Gestational diabetes usually goes away after the baby is born.
- Most women manage their gestational diabetes effectively and have a pregnancy and birth free of serious complications. Read Crystal’s story and experience with gestational diabetes
- Gestational diabetes happens when hormones made by the placenta cause the body’s insulin to not work as well as usual. This makes your blood glucose levels go up.
Untreated gestational diabetes, when blood glucose levels go too high, can put you and your baby at risk of serious complications during pregnancy and during birth. This can include your baby growing too big, needing an emergency caesarean section or your baby needing special care when it is born.
The good news is that the risk of complications happening is greatly reduced when gestational diabetes is diagnosed and managed well. Managing gestational diabetes well means that you can have a healthy pregnancy and options for your birth.
If you are newly diagnosed with gestational diabetes, here are some key steps to consider.
Healthy eating helps keep your blood glucose levels in the safe range and can stop you from gaining too much weight. Find out more about healthy eating, food swaps and see our meal plans for gestational diabetes here.
Unless you have been told not to exercise by your healthcare team, some moderate intensity exercise is good for you, your baby and gestational diabetes.
Exercise helps reduce blood glucose levels. This means you’re more likely to keep your levels in the safe range. There are plenty of pregnancy-safe activities you can try to help you get fit and strong for the birth and when carrying around that newborn. Learn more about safe exercises for gestational diabetes.
Checking your blood glucose levels
You’ll need a blood glucose meter to monitor your blood glucose levels. Your GP, diabetes educator or pharmacist may be able to help you with this. They will also give you some target levels to check against.
It’s very important to let them know if your levels are higher than these targets because it means your treatment needs changing. It’s not because of anything you’ve done wrong, we are all different and our bodies react in different ways. Don’t be afraid to speak up so that you can get the best treatment straight away.
Tablets and medication
If your blood glucose levels won’t stay in the safe range with changes to diet and exercise, you might need to take tablets, or have insulin injections. This is to make sure your levels are where they need to be so that your risk of any complications can be minimised.
Taking tablets and insulin as directed is safe. Research to date shows that these medications are safe during pregnancy. Like any medication, there are risks and side effects. Your health professionals can explain the risks and benefits of taking medication in your situation.
Where can I get more help?
There are many health professionals who can help you. This includes specialist doctors, diabetes educators and dietitians. They can help you understand how to manage your glucose levels and help you to make healthy changes that work for you.
For more information about gestational diabetes download our helpful factsheet, or download this guide Gestational diabetes: Caring for yourself and your baby.
You can also call our helpline if you have a question about gestational diabetes. If you’re really struggling with your diagnosis, don’t be afraid to reach out. Pregnancy is stressful enough without a diagnosis of gestational diabetes too. If you’re wanting to talk about your feelings and emotions in more detail, ask to speak to our psychologist over the phone.