Diabetes during pregnancy or gestational diabetes has a significant impact on how your cells use sugar (glucose). It can lead to high blood sugar levels, which can affect your pregnancy and baby’s health.

In India, the prevalence of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is around 10%-14.3%. However, in almost 90% of cases, GDM subsides after delivery. But almost 50% of these women are prone to getting diabetes after 5 to 10 years of delivery.

There’s also good news that 70% of patients don’t even need medication and it can be controlled by just adopting healthy eating habits. 

If you are planning a pregnancy or already having a pregnancy, you should know about the symptoms, causes, risk factors, complications, prevention, and management of GDM.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

As the name suggests, gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy (gestation period). 


Usually, women with gestational diabetes don’t experience noticeable symptoms. Frequent urination and the urge to eat and drink more than usual are considered indications of this disease. Rapid weight gain during pregnancy is also indicative of GDM.


It’s not yet fully evident what causes gestational diabetes. But some experts believe that the placenta (an organ that develops in the uterus during pregnancy) makes certain hormones that are diabetogenic.

Usually, the pancreas produces insulin and sends it to transport glucose from blood to sugar. But sometimes, the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or insulin doesn’t function properly. This increases the blood sugar level and you may get gestational diabetes.   

Risk Factors

You are more prone to getting gestational diabetes if you:

  • Have prediabetes
  • Have a family history of diabetes.
  • Have had a miscarriage.
  • Are older than 35 years old.
  • Have previously given birth to a baby with more than 4.1 kilograms weight.
  • Are suffering from heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or other medical complications.
  • Have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) - a condition in which numerous small cysts (fluid-filled sacs) form inside the ovaries.

Apart from this, a sedentary lifestyle and obesity could amount to diabetes during pregnancy.


If you have gestational diabetes, there is a higher chance of getting type 2 diabetes and preeclampsia - a serious complication of pregnancy that can threaten both your and your baby’s health.

The high blood sugar level during pregnancy may also increase the need for surgery to deliver and raise the risk of getting gestational diabetes again during a future pregnancy. 

Also, it may affect your baby in many ways. It can result in preterm (premature) birth and excessive baby weight. Babies weighing more than normal are more vulnerable to birth injuries and operative deliveries.

If gestational diabetes is untreated, it could result in the baby’s death either before or during the birth (stillbirth).


It is a preventable condition. A healthy lifestyle and a planned diet may surely help you.

  • Maintain a healthy weight before and during pregnancy. However, it’s normal to gain some weight during pregnancy, but too much weight too quickly is not a good sign. 
  • Eat healthy fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that are high in fibre and low in fat and calories to keep yourself in a good shape.
  • Be active. Consider doing moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.


If you’re diagnosed with gestational diabetes, discuss it with your doctor. He will examine your and your baby's condition and may recommend a few tips for its management.

  • Regularly monitor your blood sugar level. A recommended blood sugar level for a pregnant woman before a meal is 95 mg/dL or less; after an hour of a meal is 140 mg/dL or less; after two hours of a meal is 120 mg/dL or less.
  • Check your urine for ketones, chemicals that can help you know whether your diabetes is under control.
  • Maintain a balanced diet and follow a healthy and moderate exercise routine.

Also, Read: What Should Be the Nutrition During Pregnancy

with Dr. Madhulika Sinha


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