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Gestational Diabetes

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 7, 2024.

What is gestational diabetes (GDM)?

GDM develops during pregnancy, usually in the second or third trimester. GDM causes your blood sugar level to rise too high. A high blood sugar level can harm you and your unborn baby. The level usually goes back to normal after the baby is born.

What causes GDM?

The cause of GDM is not known. Hormones made by the placenta may cause insulin resistance. Insulin helps move sugar out of the blood to be used for energy. Insulin resistance means your pancreas makes insulin, but your body cannot use it. As the placenta grows, more of these hormones are produced. The hormones block insulin and cause your blood sugar level to rise.


What increases my risk for GDM?

What are the signs and symptoms of GDM?

How is GDM diagnosed?

An oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) may be done at or after 24 weeks of pregnancy. Your healthcare provider may check you for GDM sooner if you are at high risk. Your provider may order either a 1-step or 2-step OGTT.

How is GDM controlled?

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 healthcare provider and dietitian will help set up a meal and activity plan for you.

What do I need to know about 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.

Treatment options

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

View more treatment options

What do I need to know about insulin?

Insulin may be needed if your diabetes is not controlled by nutrition and physical activity. Insulin is safe to use during pregnancy. Insulin may be given through a pump or pen, or injected. You and your care team will discuss the best method for you:

What else can I do to manage GDM?

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

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my doctor or diabetes care team provider?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

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Further information

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