Skip to main content
Dartmouth-Hitchcock logo
Summer Flowers In This Section

Gestational Diabetes

This condition is first discovered during pregnancy. Almost all of the time it goes away after delivery.

Our bodies get energy from glucose, a form of sugar made from the food we eat. Without insulin (a hormone made by the pancreas), glucose can't get into the cells to be used for energy. Insulin acts like a key that unlocks the door to let glucose in.

You can have a glucose screening test for gestational diabetes around 24-28 weeks of pregnancy, because that is when the placenta begins producing large amounts of hormones that can cause insulin resistance.

Increased risks

  • Women who have gestational diabetes are at risk for having large babies, which can present complications at delivery.
  • There is a greater chance of stillbirth for women with poorly controlled gestational diabetes.
  • The chance of getting preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy) is increased.
  • Children of poorly controlled gestational diabetics are more likely to be obese.
  • Women with gestational diabetes in one pregnancy have a higher chance of having it in future pregnancies.
  • Having gestational diabetes puts you at greater risk of developing diabetes later in life. Up to 70 percent of women with gestational diabetes have diabetes 16 years after their pregnancies.

Managing gestational diabetes

  • We will check on your baby's health through ultrasound and heartbeat monitoring as your pregnancy progresses.
  • We recommend speaking with a dietician and/or a diabetes educator to help develop a meal and exercise plan.
  • You will need to monitor your glucose at home up to four times a day, or less if you can manage your diabetes with diet and exercise.
  • If you need insulin, it means that the placenta has overpowered the body’s ability to make insulin. Most women who need insulin during pregnancy do not need it after delivery. Frequent visits to the doctor are needed to adjust the dose.

Birth and beyond

  • Your baby may grow very large because of your increased blood sugar. In that case, you may need a cesarean section.
  • After delivery, the baby will need his or her glucose level tested. We may need to administer an IV and special care until the level has stabilized.
  • Women with gestational diabetes should be screened for diabetes every 1-2 years.

Other resources

Contact Us