Diabetes and Pregnancy

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Monika Dubey
Written by Hexahealth Care Team, last updated on 24 November 2023
Diabetes and Pregnancy

Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which your body cannot typically utilise insulin or make enough insulin. Insulin is needed to metabolise sugar (glucose) in your blood and send it to the cells. Sugar is used as fuel for performing all bodily functions. When the glucose is not metabolised, it cannot enter the cells, thereby building up in your blood. This results in high blood sugar levels in your blood.

Diabetes and Pregnancy

Three forms of diabetes can affect you:

1. Type 1 diabetes 

This is an autoimmune disorder where your body’s immune system damages the cells in your pancreas responsible for making insulin.

2. Type 2 diabetes 

This is a condition when your body cannot make enough insulin or use the insulin properly. 

3. Gestational diabetes 

When the blood sugar levels rise and you have other symptoms of diabetes during pregnancy only, you have gestational diabetes. 

Signs and symptoms 

  1. Increased frequency of urination
  2. Increased thirst
  3. Fatigue and weakness
  4. Nausea
  5. Vomiting
  6. Weight loss even after eating well
  7. Blurred vision
  8. Yeast infections


  1. The exact cause of diabetes in pregnancy is not known. 
  2. However, it is believed that your hormones constantly work to regulate your blood sugar levels.
  3. During pregnancy, these hormonal levels change and make it hard for your body to control your blood sugar levels. 
  4. This increases your blood sugar levels. 
  5. Risk factors 
  6. You are likely to develop diabetes during pregnancy if you:
  7. Are obese or overweight
  8. Are physically inactive
  9. Are diagnosed with diabetes before getting pregnant or during your previous pregnancy
  10. Are prediabetic (a state where your blood sugar levels are moderately high at borderline levels)
  11. Have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  12. Have an ancestral history of diabetes
  13. Have delivered a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds (4.1 kilograms)
  14. Belong to any of the following races – Black, Hispanic, Asian American, and American Indian

Myths vs. facts 

Myth 1 – Eating cake will lead to diabetes during pregnancy.

Nutrition plays a key role in maintaining your blood sugar levels. However, eating a piece of cake will not cause your blood sugar levels to peak so high that they will lead to gestational diabetes. Your focus should be on eating healthy foods and not eating excessively. You grow a human baby inside of you, but you should not exceed your meal portions. Excessive calories will lead to excessive weight gain, increasing your chances of developing diabetes during pregnancy. But you will not get diabetes during pregnancy just by eating one type of food.

Myth 2 – Only obese or overweight women will develop diabetes during pregnancy.

There is a risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy if you are obese. But gestational diabetes can develop in anyone with or without the risk factors.  

Prevention and disease reduction 

Since the cause is unknown, you cannot prevent gestational diabetes. But by focusing on healthy habits before getting pregnant, you can reduce your risk of diabetes during pregnancy. Healthy choices to avoid gestational diabetes in future pregnancies include:

1. Nutritious diet

Opt for low-fat foods and foods that are rich in fibre. Include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet. Control your portion size without compromising on your nutrition.

2. Physical activity

Whether or not you are pregnant, focus on exercising and include some physical activity in your routine. Your goal should be to practice 30 minutes of moderate activity. Walk daily, ride a bicycle, or go for a swim regularly. 

3. Ideal weight

Your weight plays a vital role in regulating your blood sugar levels. Losing 5% of your total body weight can help control your blood sugar levels. Healthy body weight before getting pregnant will help keep diabetes during pregnancy away.

When to see a doctor? 

  1. You must consult your doctor if you run into any of the above symptoms.
  2. Seek medical help when you are planning to get pregnant. Understand your risks for gestational diabetes and focus on overall wellness.
  3. Get yourself checked and tested during pregnancy to rule out diabetes in pregnancy. 
  4. If you develop gestational diabetes, you ought to consult your gynaecologist more often. They will monitor your blood sugar levels and keep a constant check on your baby’s health. 

Risks if not treated in time

Complications of diabetes during pregnancy include effects on the mother as well as the unborn baby. 

  1. Complications for the mother:
  2. High blood pressure and preeclampsia
  3. Surgical delivery (C-section)
  4. Having gestational diabetes in your future pregnancies as well
  5. A higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes when you are older 
  6. Complications for the child 
  7. Your baby may be born
  8. With excessive birth weight
  9. Early or have a preterm birth
  10. With respiratory symptoms like breathing difficulties
  11. Dead or die shortly after birth due to untreated gestational diabetes in the mother 
  12. Your baby may develop 
  13. Symptoms of low blood sugar that can cause seizures in the baby after birth
  14. Type 2 diabetes and obesity later on in life


  1. Your doctor will take a detailed case history and examine you clinically during your pregnancy.
  2. You may be advised to take tests to check your blood sugar levels during pregnancy.
  3. Screening for diabetes during pregnancy is carried out around 24 to 28 weeks of gestation.
  4. If you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, then you may be screened for diabetes risk from 6 to 12 weeks postpartum. 


Treatment for gestational diabetes includes:

1. Lifestyle changes

During pregnancy, managing your blood sugar levels requires you to have a healthy meal and a daily walk to maintain healthy body weight. Stay active to regulate your blood sugar levels. Eat a balanced and nutritious diet that will help you maintain your ideal body weight. A daily meal plan based on your body weight and pregnancy weight gain goals will help control your blood sugar levels. 

2. Blood sugar monitoring

You will need to undergo routine tests to check your blood sugar levels. It may be done three to four times a day to ensure your blood sugar levels are within a healthy range.

3. Medication

To control your blood sugar levels, you might have to undergo medications along with lifestyle changes. Some women are prescribed oral tablets, while others may need insulin therapy.

How to prepare for the doctor’s consultation? 

  1. Consult your gynaecologist immediately if you have any of the symptoms of diabetes during your pregnancy.
  2. Discuss all your doubts and queries and understand your treatment.
  3. Ask your doctor about the possible complications of your condition.
  4. Keep a diary to maintain all your symptoms and queries.
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Updated on : 24 November 2023


Dr. Monika Dubey

Dr. Monika Dubey

MBBS, MS Obstetrics & Gynaecology

21 Years Experience

A specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology with a rich experience of over 21 years is currently working in HealthFort Clinic. She has expertise in Hymenoplasty, Vaginoplasty, Vaginal Tightening, Labiaplasty, MTP (Medical Termination...View More


About Authors

HexaHealth Care Team

HexaHealth Care Team brings you medical content covering many important conditions, procedures falling under different medical specialities. The content published is thoroughly reviewed by our panel of qualified doctors for its accuracy and relevance.

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