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After the birth - Gestational diabetes

Postnatal and future follow-up care

Gestational diabetes usually goes away after your baby is born, but there is a 50% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life, possibly within the next 5 years.

Some women who develop gestational diabetes may have had undiagnosed diabetes before pregnancy. For these women, diabetes does not go away after pregnancy and may be a lifelong condition.

You should get a glucose tolerance test (GTT) 6 to 12 weeks after the birth and every year after that. You should continue a healthy and active lifestyle to prevent type 2 diabetes.

It is important to tell your public health nurse, GP, GP practice nurse and other healthcare professionals about any complications that happened in pregnancy, labour and post-delivery.

Children of women who had gestational diabetes may be at risk of becoming overweight or obese during childhood. These children also have a higher risk of developing diabetes.

Breastfeeding if you have gestational diabetes

Having gestational diabetes should not stop you from breastfeeding your baby.

If your diabetes is well controlled, your breast milk will be the same as breast milk from a woman without diabetes.

Tips for getting breastfeeding established

At around 37 weeks of your pregnancy you can express and store (freeze) some colostrum (early milk). This can be given to your baby if they cannot breastfeed after birth or if their blood glucose level is low and need some extra milk.

For advice and support, ask your hospital’s clinical midwife specialist in lactation, diabetes midwife specialist and parentcraft team or your public health nurse.

Unless your baby needs special care in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), make sure your baby has skin-to-skin contact with you or your birth partner as soon as possible after birth.

While doing skin-to-skin contact, start breastfeeding within 1 hour after birth. Your colostrum (early milk) is the best food for your baby and will help their blood glucose to stay at a safe level. You can ask your midwife or nurse to help you to get your baby latched on or positioned correctly to your breast.

Your midwife or nurse will check the baby’s blood glucose level according to the hospital policy.

Continue to breastfeed frequently at least every 2 to 3 hours, maybe 8 to 12 times in 24 hours. It will take around 2 to 3 days for your milk to ‘come in’. In the meantime your baby is getting the vital colostrum.

Planning future pregnancies

If you have had gestational diabetes, you're at high risk of developing diabetes in future pregnancies.

You should:

  • start taking preventative a folic acid supplement once a day 3 months before trying to get pregnant
  • make sure you have not developed diabetes since your last pregnancy by having a test every year
  • go to your GP immediately after a positive pregnancy test and tell them you had gestational diabetes before - you will get your blood glucose levels monitored and treated early due to the potential risks of high blood glucose on the baby
  • register with your maternity unit or hospital and contact their diabetes midwife as soon as possible

Page last reviewed: 5 July 2023
Next review due: 5 July 2026