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Gestational Diabetes After Delivery

By Sara Herbelin, MS, MCHES, CDCES, CD(DONA), LCCE

Sara Herbelin is a certified diabetes care and education specialist, Childbirth Graphics & Health Edco health educator, and a member of our Childbirth Graphics advisory board.

November is National Diabetes Month, making it a great time to focus not only on managing gestational diabetes, but also the steps a woman who has had gestational diabetes can take to minimize her risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

As part of our commitment to nurturing healthy mothers, babies, and families, Childbirth Graphics includes teaching resources in our pregnancy hazards section that educate expectant parents about gestational diabetes and the importance of diabetes management. In addition, there are also healthy steps a woman who has had gestational diabetes can take to help prevent the future development of type 2 diabetes.

Read on to learn more about gestational diabetes, healthy living after gestational diabetes for type 2 diabetes prevention, and our educational resources to teach expectant and new mothers about gestational diabetes and healthy lifestyles after delivery.

What Is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes develops when a woman’s body is not able to make and use all the insulin it needs during pregnancy. Women with gestational diabetes will routinely monitor their blood glucose and work with a registered dietitian to ensure the right balance of insulin and carbohydrates during pregnancy to avoid any harm to their unborn child. Most women who have gestational diabetes do well as long as it is adequately managed. Unlike other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes usually goes away on its own. Blood glucose levels return to normal in the postpartum period. But there are still some important issues and risks to be aware of.

Our Understanding Gestational Diabetes Tear Pad is a great
handout to explain the importance of managing gestational diabetes.

Healthy Living After Delivery for Diabetes Prevention.

Continuing to follow up with a healthcare professional after delivery will provide an opportunity to discuss health screenings that are right for each person. For women who have had gestational diabetes, a blood glucose test is routinely conducted 1 to 3 months postpartum. About 50% of women who have gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes later in life. There are, however, a few things a woman who had gestational diabetes can do to lower her risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Our Managing Diabetes Pop-Up Banner gives a quick
overview of the essentials of diabetes management.

  • Eat a healthy diet. Choose foods and beverages that are full of nutrients and limited in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium. A registered dietitian can provide personalized guidance. By maintaining a healthy diet in the years after pregnancy, women who had gestational diabetes can greatly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

  • Lose weight if you need to. Losing 5–10% of weight can lower a person’s chance of developing type 2 diabetes. It will also lower the chance of developing gestational diabetes in future pregnancies.

  • Breastfeed. Breastfeeding provides many benefits for both a mother and her baby. Breastfeeding increases insulin sensitivity and helps to manage glucose levels in the mother. Producing breastmilk also requires the body to use energy and burn calories, contributing to gradual, healthy weight loss.

Mom learns the many reasons why breastfeeding is
best with our The ABCs of Breastfeeding Benefits Pamphlet.

  • Stay Active. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week. Regular activity uses up glucose for energy, helps the body more effectively use insulin, and helps maintain a healthy weight.

Discover More Teaching Tools

For more educational materials that are perfect for teaching about gestational diabetes and the importance of diabetes management, check out our product sections dedicated to pregnancy hazards and pregnancy. Our product sections dedicated to breastfeeding education and postpartum teaching materials feature resources to help new mothers establish healthy lifestyles after delivery that can help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.

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