Gestational Diabetes and Your Health After Your Baby is Born

Your healthcare provider will check your blood sugar level after you deliver. For most women, blood sugar levels go back to normal quickly after having their babies.

Six to twelve weeks after your baby is born, you should have a blood test to find out whether your blood sugar level is back to normal. Based on the results of the test, you will fall into one of three categories.

After Pregnancy Test Categories
If your category is… You should…
Normal
  • Get checked for diabetes every three years
Impaired Glucose Tolerance or Pre-iabetes
  • Get checked for diabetes every year
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about ways to lower your risk level for diabetes
Diabetes
  • Work with your healthcare provider to set up a treatment plan for your diabetes

The test also checks your risk for getting diabetes in the future. Women who have had gestational diabetes have a 40 percent higher chance than women who have not had gestational diabetes of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Getting checked for diabetes is important because type 2 diabetes shows few symptoms. The only way to know for sure that you have type 2 diabetes is to have a blood test that reveals a higher-than-normal blood sugar level. You should also tell your healthcare provider right away if you notice any of these things:

  • Increased thirsty
  • Urinating often
  • Feeling constantly or overly tired
  • Losing weight quickly and/or without reason

Having one or more of these symptoms does not mean you have diabetes, but your healthcare provider might want to test you to make sure. Finding type 2 diabetes early can help you avoid problems, like early heart disease and damage to your eyes, kidneys, or nerves. If you choose to use birth control methods in the future, talk with your health care provider about a method that won’t increase your risk of developing diabetes.

Can I breastfeed even though I have gestational diabetes?

Like all mothers, women with gestational diabetes should breastfeed their babies, if possible. Breastfeeding provides many benefits for you and your baby. It provided extra immunity for your baby and it helps your body to lose the weight from pregnancy which lowers your risk of developing diabetes.

Am I going to develop diabetes in the future?

If you have one or more of the following, you may be at a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes within 5 years after having your baby:

  • You developed gestational diabetes before your 24th week of pregnancy.
  • Your blood sugar level during pregnancy was consistently on the high end of the healthy range.
  • Your blood sugar levels after the baby was born were higher-than-average
  • You have a history of impaired glucose tolerance or prediabetes
  • You are obese (BMI>30)
  • You have diabetes in your family.
  • You belong to a high-risk ethnic group (Hispanic, African American, Native American, South or East Asian, Pacific Islander, Indigenous Australian).
  • You have had gestational diabetes with other pregnancies.

If you have any of these risk factors, it is even more important that you get tested yearly for diabetes and take steps to lower your risk, such as eating a healthy diet, losing extra weight, and getting regular physical activity.

Plan your next pregnancy

If you know that you want to get pregnant in the future, have a blood sugar test up to three months before becoming pregnant to make sure you have a normal blood sugar level.  High blood sugar early in the pregnancy (within the first eight weeks) can affect the developing body and organ systems of the fetus. It’s important to get your blood sugar level under control before you get pregnant.

If you do get pregnant again, make sure your health care provider knows that you had gestational diabetes with your last pregnancy. If you had gestational diabetes with one pregnancy, your risk of getting it with another pregnancy is about 36 percent.