Gestational Diabetes FAQ

What does gestational diabetes do to a baby?

If high blood sugar levels are not controlled via a proper course of treatment, this can lead to complications for both the baby and the mother.

One complication might be that the baby may be born larger, as extra blood glucose gets transported to it via the placenta.To try and combat this, the baby’s pancreas makes extra insulin to get rid of the glucose and, as a result of this process, the baby receives more energy which is stored as fat. This can lead to a painful birth for the mother, as well as putting the baby at significant risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Complications can also occur inside the womb, as gestational diabetes can affect the placenta and therefore slow down the baby’s movements.2 If you notice that your baby’s movements have shifted, then you should contact your doctor or midwife immediately, as this could also be a warning sign of various other medical conditions. In very rare cases, the damage due to diabetes can cause serious medical implications for both the mother and the baby. 

What are the warning signs of gestational diabetes?

The following are common symptoms/warning signs for gestational diabetes in expectant mothers: 

  • An increase in thirst 
  • Frequent urination 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Fatigue3

Confusion can arise as the above symptoms are also common during a normal pregnancy. One study also noted that psychological symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress should all be considered alongside the physiological symptoms.4  A medical professional should give relevant treatment options for both psychological and physiological symptoms.

What should I avoid eating with gestational diabetes?

Carbohydrates are known to cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels, so these foods should be replaced with healthier alternatives. Swaps for carbohydrates can include white bread to whole grain, white pittas for brown pittas and pasta to a whole grain variety. It goes without saying that sugar intake should be considerably cut down and artificial sweeteners should be used as well as avoiding foods high in sugar, such as cake, chocolate, biscuits, and ice cream. It’s important if you have been diagnosed with this condition to read food labels and understand the glycaemic index with the aim of eating foods that are considered low on this index.5 

Is gestational diabetes considered high-risk pregnancy?

A high risk pregnancy is when there is deemed to be a high risk for either the foetus, the mother, or both.6 Gestational diabetes will constitute a high-risk pregnancy, as it can provoke high blood pressure (preeclampsia) for the mother. For the baby, it can cause excessive birth weight and a risk of developing diabetes in adult life.7 Certain dietary and lifestyle factors can be implemented in order to reduce the risk of complications for both parties.

Who is prone to gestational diabetes?

An array of studies have noted that certain risk factors including advanced maternal age, family history of diabetes, being overweight, and smoking cigarettes make you more prone to developing gestational diabetes.8 Lifestyle factors can also impact the risk rate of developing gestational diabetes. In one study, it was shown that physical activity during the first trimester reduced the risk by 20%.9 Diet can also play a large part in developing this condition.10

Is gestational diabetes caused by diet?

During pregnancy, there should be a maintenance of glucose to the correct level by the pancreas, while at the same time counteracting the continuous fall in insulin. In a woman with gestational diabetes, the above process is disrupted and the pancreas is unable to produce insulin to compensate with the increased resistance to this hormone.11 The cause for this condition is the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin.

How early can you get gestational diabetes?

It is important to note that this condition can occur at any time, during any of the three trimesters of pregnancy. Generally, the condition is detected around the late second trimester (13-26 weeks) to the early third trimester (27-40 weeks). In some cases, hyperglycemia can be detected at less than 20 weeks.12

Can gestational diabetes be treated without medication?

Treatment options for this condition consist of both lifestyle and dietary changes. A healthy eating plan should be followed in order to maintain the fluctuations in blood glucose levels. A medical professional will advise the best course of action for you. In addition to this, being physically active for just 30 minutes a week prevents the risk of developing type 2 diabetes as well as lowering blood glucose levels.13 Medical professionals will inform you of recommended glucose levels, but these should be: 95 mg/DL or less before a meal, 140 mg/DL or less 1 hour after eating, and 120 mg/DL or less 2 hours after eating.  In the case that blood sugar levels can’t be managed, a healthcare team may suggest further treatment using insulin shots.13

What is considered severe gestational diabetes?

Severity of this condition can include obtaining other medical conditions as side effects, notably preeclampsia.14

Should I be worried about gestational diabetes?

It is understandable if you feel worried upon receiving a diagnosis of gestational diabetes, however there are a multitude of tools both psychological and physiological that can help you. In 2021, the prevalence of gestational diabetes was 20.1%.15 A medical professional will guide you through the steps to take and any complications that may arise. Know that you are not alone, as gestational diabetes is a common condition. There are many support groups available to help you through this difficult time. 


  1. How Will This Impact My Baby | ADA [Internet]. [cited 14 October 2022]. Available from: 
  2. UK Diabetes C, guide O. Complications of gestational diabetes [Internet]. Diabetes UK. 2022 [cited 14 October 2022]. Available from: 
  3. Gestational diabetes [Internet]. [cited 14 October 2022]. Available from:  
  4. Lee K, Ching S, Hoo F, Ramachandran V, Chong S, Tusimin M et al. Prevalence and factors associated with depressive, anxiety and stress symptoms among women with gestational diabetes mellitus in tertiary care centres in Malaysia: a cross-sectional study. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth [Internet]. 2019 [cited 14 October 2022];19(1):8. Available from:  
  5. UK D. What can I eat with gestational diabetes? [Internet]. Diabetes UK. 2022 [cited 14 October 2022]. Available from: 
  6. Soh M, Nelson-Piercy C. Comment on: High-risk pregnancy and the rheumatologist: reply. Rheumatology [Internet]. 2015 [cited 14 October 2022];. Available from: 
  7. Gestational diabetes - Symptoms and causes [Internet]. Mayo Clinic. [cited 14 October 2022]. Available from:  
  8. Principles of Medical Therapy in Pregnancy. 1st ed. New York and London: Plenum Medical Book Company; 2012.  
  9.   Zhang C, Rawal S, Chong Y. Risk factors for gestational diabetes: is prevention possible?. Diabetologia [Internet]. 2016 [cited 17 October 2022];59(7). Available from: 
  10. Bao W, Tobias D, Hu F, Chavarro J, Zhang C. Pre-pregnancy potato consumption and risk of gestational diabetes mellitus: prospective cohort study. BMJ [Internet]. 2016 [cited 17 October 2022];. Available from:  
  11. Reece E, Leguizamón G, Wiznitzer A. Gestational Diabetes: The Need for a Common Ground. Obstetric Anesthesia Digest [Internet]. 2010 [cited 17 October 2022];30(2):84-85. Available from:       
  12. Gestational diabetes mellitus. Nature Reviews Disease Primers [Internet]. 2019 [cited 17 October 2022];47(5). Available from:  
  13. Diabetes M, Health N. Managing & Treating Gestational Diabetes | NIDDK [Internet]. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. [cited 17 October 2022]. Available from:  
  14. Hildén K, Hanson U, Persson M, Fadl H. Overweight and obesity: a remaining problem in women treated for severe gestational diabetes. Diabetic Medicine [Internet]. 2016 [cited 17 October 2022];33(8):1045-1051. Available from:  
  15. United Kingdom diabetes report 2000 — 2045 [Internet]. 2022 [cited 18 October 2022]. Available from:

Rebecca Dion

Master of Public Health - MPH Student, Lund University, Sweden

Interested in health promotion for children and young adults. I have been working and studying in the multicultural environments of London , Paris and more recently in Lund. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
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