Skip to main content

Gestational Diabetes

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 1, 2023.

Gestational diabetes (GDM) is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy, usually in the second or third trimester. GDM causes your blood sugar level to rise too high. This can harm you and your unborn baby. Blood sugar levels usually go back to normal after the baby is born. GDM may be controlled with meal planning and physical activity. The goal is to keep your blood sugar level as close to normal, as safely as possible. Your diabetes care team provider may order blood glucose monitoring to check your levels several times each day. The checks will be done if you need to stay in the hospital, and you will need to check at home.



Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • Your heartbeat is fast and weak, or your breathing is fast and shallow.
  • You are more sleepy than usual or become confused.
  • You have blurred or double vision.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your breath has a fruity, sweet smell.
  • You are shaking or sweating.
  • Your blood sugar level is below 70 mg/dL or above 250 mg/dL and does not improve with treatment.
  • You have a headache, or you are dizzy.

Call your doctor or diabetes care team provider if:

  • You think your baby is not moving as much as usual.
  • You have more hunger or thirst than usual.
  • You are urinating more often than usual.
  • You have an upset stomach and are vomiting.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Insulin may be needed if your diabetes is not controlled by nutrition and exercise. Insulin is safe to use during pregnancy. Insulin may be given by injections, or you may have an insulin pump or pen. An insulin pump is an implanted device that gives you a constant amount of insulin through the day. The amount changes when the number of carbohydrates is entered. An insulin pen is a device prefilled with the right amount of insulin. You and your care team will discuss which method is best for you.

    Insulin Pen
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell your provider 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.

Blood glucose monitoring:

Your diabetes care team provider may order blood glucose monitoring to check your levels several times each day. The checks will be done if you need to stay in the hospital, and you will need to check at home.

  • Your provider will teach you how to check your blood sugar level. You may need to check a drop of blood in a glucose test machine. Your provider may also recommend a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). A CGM is used along with a glucose monitor. The CGM is worn at all times so it can check your blood sugar level every 5 minutes. The CGM sends results to an electronic device such as a smart phone.
    How to check your blood sugar
    Continuous Glucose Monitoring
  • Your provider will teach you what your levels should be at certain times each day. Your fasting blood sugar level target may be 70 to 95 mg/dL. Your target may be 110 to 140 mg/dL 1 hour after you eat or 100 to 120 mg/dL 2 hours after you eat. Your provider may give you higher target levels if you are at risk for hypoglycemia. You will learn what to do if the level is too high or too low. Write down your results, and show them to your provider. Your provider may use the results to make changes to your medicine, food, and physical activity schedules.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

Have your A1c level checked as often as directed:

A hemoglobin A1c is a blood test that measures your average blood sugar level for the past 2 to 3 months. It is also called an HbA1c or glycohemoglobin test. The level is given as a percentage. An A1c of 6% or lower is usually recommended during pregnancy. If you are at risk for hypoglycemia, your goal may be 7%. Changes to your nutrition, physical activity, or medicine plan may be made to help you reach your goal. Your provider may recommend that you have your A1c checked 1 time each month.

Check your blood pressure (BP) as often as directed:

BP readings are usually written as 2 numbers, such as 120/80. The first number is the systolic BP, and the second is the diastolic BP. If you did not have high BP before pregnancy, your systolic BP should be between 110 and 135. Your diastolic BP should be between 60 and 85. If you did have high BP before pregnancy, your systolic BP should be between 120 and 140. Your diastolic BP should be between 80 and 90. Check your BP 2 times, 1 minute apart. Keep a record of your readings and bring it to your follow-up visits.

How to take a Blood Pressure

Follow your meal plan as directed:

Talk to a dietitian or healthcare provider about the best meal plan for you. Your plan may include 3 small meals and 2 to 4 snacks every day. Control the amount of carbohydrates (such as bread, cereal, and fruit) you eat at each meal and snack. Too much carbohydrate in 1 meal or snack can cause your blood sugar to rise to a high level. Your dietitian or provider will tell you how much carbohydrate to eat at each meal and snack. Eat foods that are a good source of fiber, such as vegetables and legumes (beans and lentils).

Maintain a healthy weight:

A healthy weight can help you control your GDM. Ask your healthcare provider how much weight is healthy for you to gain during your pregnancy. If your weight was higher than recommended before you became pregnant, your provider may recommend a safe weight loss plan during pregnancy. Your provider or a dietitian can help you create a healthy meal plan for you and your baby. Do not try to go on a crash diet or try to lose weight without your provider's approval. You may not get enough calories or nutrients for you and your baby.

Ask your healthcare provider about the best activity plan for you:

Physical activity helps keep your blood sugar level steady. A good goal is to be active for at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Low-impact activities such as walking or swimming are effective.

Walking During Pregnancy

Do not smoke:

Nicotine is dangerous for you and your baby and can make it harder to manage your GDM. Do not use e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in place of cigarettes or to help you quit. They still contain nicotine. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help quitting.

Diabetes screening after you give birth:

You may need diabetes screening 4 to 12 weeks after your baby is born. Screening is used to check if you have developed diabetes, problems with your fasting glucose levels, or glucose intolerance. You may need other tests or treatment if you have any of these. Testing may be repeated every 1 to 3 years if you had GDM but normal tests within 12 weeks of giving birth.

Follow up with your doctor or diabetes care team provider as directed:

You will need to have screening tests for diabetes 4 to 12 weeks after you have your baby. You may also need to have tests for diabetes every 1 to 3 years for life. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© Copyright Merative 2023 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.