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Gestational Diabetes

At MaineHealth, we are committed to giving women with diabetes supportive and compassionate care during pregnancy. Our medical teams work to reduce risks and keep you and your baby healthy. Services for pregnancy and diabetes include specialized medical care, ongoing monitoring, support with meal planning and education. Our staff follows up with phone calls and visits after your baby is born.

  • We meet the needs of pregnant women who develop or are first diagnosed with diabetes during pregnancy.

  • We work to reduce the risks for women with preexisting Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes who become pregnant (pregestational diabetes).

What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes occurs when pregnancy hormones prevent a woman’s body from using her insulin well. Gestational diabetes usually occurs in the middle of a woman’s pregnancy and ends at the end of pregnancy; however women are at risk for recurrent gestational diabetes with subsequent pregnancies as well as development of diabetes outside the setting of pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes often is controlled by eating healthy foods and getting regular exercise. Sometimes a woman with gestational diabetes needs to take insulin and other diabetes medications.

Pregnancy risks with gestational or pregestational diabetes

When a pregnant woman has gestational or pregestational diabetes, there are risks for her baby and her if blood sugar (glucose) levels are high. Here are some of those risks:

  • The baby may be larger than expected. This can lead to the mother needing a C-section to deliver her baby or to nerve damage in the newborn from pressure in the womb.

  • They can have high blood pressure or preeclampsia. High blood pressure can hurt the mother and unborn baby. The baby may be born too early. High blood pressure can also cause women to have a seizure or stroke.

  • The baby may have birth defects.

  • Blood sugar can become too low for women who are taking insulin and some other diabetes medicine during pregnancy. Low blood sugar is a serious problem that can lead to death. Women with diabetes during pregnancy need to watch their blood sugar. They need to get medical help quickly if they have low blood sugar.

  • The baby can have low blood sugar after birth, if the mother’s diabetes is not controlled during pregnancy.

Help with high-risk pregnancies

The Maine Medical Partners Maternal-Fetal medicine clinic provides expert care for high-risk pregnancies. The focus is on keeping Mom and baby healthy and safe.

Talk to your doctor about keeping your diabetes under control during pregnancy. Here are some ways to control blood sugar and be healthy during pregnancy:

  • Eat healthy foods. Ask your provider about seeing a dietitian who can help you plan meals.

  • Exercise regularly. Check with your provider about the best exercise plan for you.

  • Check your blood sugar as instructed by your provider.

  • Take your medication/insulin as prescribed. Be sure to follow your provider’s directions for taking all of your medications.

  • For patients with gestational diabetes, get tested for diabetes 6 to 12 weeks after delivery.

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