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Management and treatment of gestational diabetes

This article covers information on gestational diabetes treatment and management, including why it is important and what you can expect. 

While some women can manage their condition by following a healthy, balanced diet and keeping active, others may require medication to help control their blood sugar levels. It is important to speak to your doctor about this, as they will be able to provide guidance based on your individual needs and help support you through your pregnancy.

For more helpful information, visit these pages

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes

Learn about gestational diabetes, including early symptoms to be aware of and the risk factors connected to the diagnose.

How to test your blood sugar

How to test your blood sugar

Learn how routine, strict recording methods, accurate readings and being vigilant can help keep track of your blood glucose levels.

Team Novo Nordisk cookbook

Team Novo Nordisk cookbook

Gestational diabetes can be managed by eating a healthy balanced diet and being more physically active or with medicine.

What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is when you develop high blood sugar (glucose) during pregnancy, due to your body’s hormone changes. It has the potential to affect your pregnancy and your baby’s health and therefore it is important that it is identified early and managed appropriately. 

The good news is that gestational diabetes usually goes away once you’ve given birth.

To find out more about your gestational diabetes read this article.

Below you will find suggested things to consider if you develop diabetes during pregnancy. Once identified, gestational diabetes can be effectively managed and treated, so put your trust in your healthcare team and follow their guidance.

How is gestational diabetes managed?

Monitoring your glucose levels

If you develop gestational diabetes, it is vital to measure your glucose levels every day throughout your pregnancy. Your healthcare team will advise when and how often to do this and tell you what levels to aim for.

Extra scans

In addition to routine ultrasound scans, you may be offered extra scans regularly through your pregnancy, to check how your baby is growing. 

Weight management and keeping active

Your team will provide guidance on how you can keep active. It’s good to aim for around two and a half hours of moderate exercise a week, which could simply be a half an hour walk every weekday.

Making changes to your diet can help control your blood sugar levels.  
You may be advised to eat: 

  • regularly – usually three meals a day – and avoid skipping meals
  • starchy and complex carbohydrates, foods that release sugar slowly, such as potatoes, brown bread, and oats
  • plenty of fruit and vegetables 
  • lean sources of protein, such as fish.

As well as the above, you may also be advised to avoid sugary foods and drinks.

Do I need to take medication?

For some women, changing your diet and physical activity is enough to achieve target blood sugar levels. But for others, treatment for gestational diabetes may include being given medicine to help control blood sugar levels. Your healthcare provider may prescribe metformin or insulin injection based on your medication need.


This tablet helps to reduce the amount of glucose (sugar) produced by the liver, and to make your insulin work properly. It’s taken with, or after, a meal.


Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose to enter the cells and to be used for energy. 

Insulin is given as an injection using a small needle just under the skin – usually in the thighs, buttocks and abdomen. Your team will teach you how to administer safely.

Giving birth and after birth

The ideal time to give birth if you have gestational diabetes is usually around Weeks 38 to 40. If your blood sugar is within normal levels and there are no concerns about your or your baby’s health, you may be able to wait for labour to start naturally. 

During labour your blood sugar will be monitored and controlled, with an insulin drip if needed. Because of this extra monitoring it is advised that you should give birth in a hospital where trained healthcare professionals will be there to support you.

Your baby’s blood sugar level will be tested starting soon after birth. If it’s low, your baby may need to be temporarily fed through a tube or a drip.

Any medicines you were taking to control your blood sugar will usually be stopped after you give birth. You’ll usually be advised to keep checking your blood sugar for 1 or 2 days after you give birth.

If you’re both well, you and your baby will normally be able to go home after 24 hours.

With prompt and appropriate management of your gestational diabetes, there’s no reason why you won’t go on to have a healthy pregnancy and birth; your diabetes healthcare team will help every step of the way. Armed with all the facts and understanding what you and your healthcare team need to do, you can go on to look forward to the healthy arrival of your baby.

Find more information on diabetes and your treatment options

Living with diabetes

Living with diabetes

In this article you can find information and tips on how you can control your blood glucose and make a healthy diet and exercise a part of your everyday life.

About diabetes

About diabetes

Learn the difference between diabetes type 1 and type 2 and what symptoms and early signs to look for. Also, you can find information on how type 2 diabetes can increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Treatment for diabetes
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Treatment for diabetes

The treatment of diabetes varies depending on whether you have been diagnosed with diabetes type 1 or type 2. Read about treatment options available.

  1. Mack LR and Tomich PG. Gestational Diabetes: Diagnosis, Classification, and Clinical Care. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2017;44:207-217.
  2. Diabetes UK. What is Gestational Diabetes? Available from: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/diabetes-the-basics/gestational-diabetes?gclid=CjwKCAiAgbiQBhAHEiwAuQ6BkhsEb3gsGzW1fiJLL-V1swzI1uCT2zdwGw-zDDpoXlNRFuwjEpjmshoCWpcQAvD_BwE. Last accessed: April 2022.
  3. NCT. Gestational diabetes: treatment. Available from: https://www.nct.org.uk/pregnancy/your-pregnancy-week-week/first-trimester/gestational-diabetes-treatment?gclid=CjwKCAiAgbiQBhAHEiwAuQ6Bkispf-dJWReNWCXSpbzzTNqWVCcLcrk6EmNlNnthzOFXe0J-OS06KxoCrEsQAvD_BwE. Last accessed: April 2022.
  4. NHS. Gestational diabetes treatment. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gestational-diabetes/treatment/. Last accessed: April 2022.
  5. Diabetes UK. Treatments for gestational diabetes. Available from: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/diabetes-the-basics/gestational-diabetes/testing-and-treatment. Last accessed: April 2022.