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Gestational Diabetes


Gestational diabetes is also called gestational diabetes mellitus, or GDM. It is a type of diabetes that may develop during pregnancy, usually in the second or third trimester. Diabetes can cause your blood sugar levels to be too high. This can harm you and your unborn baby. Blood sugar levels go back to normal for most women after they give birth.



You may need the following:

  • Insulin: This medicine may be given to decrease the amount of sugar in your blood. It helps your body move the sugar to your cells, where it is needed for energy.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your diabetes specialist or healthcare provider as directed:

You may need eye exams to check for retinopathy. You may also need to have screening tests for diabetes after you have your baby. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Blood sugar checks:

  • Ask your healthcare provider when and how often to check your blood sugar levels during the day. You may need to check at least 3 times each day. Your healthcare provider will teach you how to use a glucose monitor. This is a small device that tells how much sugar is in your blood. The monitor uses a small drop of blood.

  • Ask what your blood sugar levels should be before and after you eat. Your blood sugar level may need to be below 95 mg/dL before you eat. The level may need to be below 140 mg/dL 1 hour after you eat or at or below 120 mg/dL 2 hours after you eat. Write your results down each time you check them. Take the record with you when you see your healthcare provider. He may use the record to make changes to your food, medicine, or exercise schedules.

Medical alert identification:

Wear medical alert jewelry or carry a card that says you have diabetes. Ask your healthcare provider where to get these items.

Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar):

Too much food, too little insulin, illness, or stress may cause your blood sugar level to increase. If you have any signs or symptoms of hyperglycemia, test your blood sugar level. If it is over 250 mg/dL, contact your healthcare provider immediately. If you cannot reach your healthcare provider, have someone drive you to the nearest emergency room, or call 911. The following are signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia:

  • Fruity, sweet smelling breath

  • Fast and weak heartbeat

  • More sleepy than usual

  • Upset stomach and vomiting

  • Urinating more often than usual

  • More thirst than usual

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar):

Too little food, too much insulin, or heavy exercise may cause your blood sugar level to drop. If you have any signs or symptoms of hypoglycemia, test your blood sugar level. If it is below 70 mg/dL, drink a glass of milk or 4 ounces (½ cup) of juice. You may eat 5 to 6 pieces of hard candy instead of drinking milk or juice. Eat a snack within 30 minutes after symptoms go away. Contact your healthcare provider if your symptoms do not go away. If you cannot reach your healthcare provider, have someone drive you to the nearest emergency room, or call 911. The following are signs and symptoms of hypoglycemia:

  • Blurred or double vision

  • Confusion

  • More hunger than usual

  • Fast heart rate

  • Fast, shallow breathing

  • Headache or dizziness

  • Cold, clammy sweating

Contact your diabetes specialist or healthcare provider if:

  • You think your baby is not moving as much as usual.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your blood sugar level is below 70 mg/dL or above 250 mg/dL and does not improve with treatment.

  • Your breath has a fruity, sweet smell.

  • Your heartbeat is fast and weak, or your breathing is fast and shallow.

  • You are more sleepy than usual or become confused.

  • You have an upset stomach and are vomiting.

  • You are urinating more often than usual.

  • You have a headache or are dizzy.

  • You have blurred or double vision.

  • You have more hunger or thirst than usual.

  • You have cold, clammy sweating.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Gestational Diabetes (Aftercare Instructions)