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Gestational Diabetes - Treatment Overview

During labor and delivery

Most women who have gestational diabetes are able to have their babies vaginally. Just because you have gestational diabetes does not mean that you will need to have a cesarean section (C-section).

Because a baby that has grown too large can be difficult to deliver safely, your doctor will do fetal ultrasounds to check the size of your baby. If your doctor thinks that your baby is in danger of being too large, he or she may decide to induce labor or do a C-section.

During labor and delivery, you and your baby are monitored closely. This includes:

  • Checking your blood sugar level regularly. If your level gets too high, you may be given small amounts of insulin through a vein (intravenously, or IV). If your level drops too low, you may be given IV fluid that contains glucose.
  • Checking your baby's heart rate and how well your baby's heart responds to movement. Fetal heart monitoring helps your doctor know how your baby is doing during labor. If the baby is large or does not seem to be doing well, you may need to have a C-section to deliver your baby.

After delivery

After delivery, you and your baby still need to be monitored closely.

  • For the first few hours, your blood sugar level may be tested every hour. Usually blood sugar levels quickly return to normal.
  • Your baby's blood sugar level will also be watched. If your blood sugar levels were high during pregnancy, your baby's body will make extra insulin for several hours after birth. This extra insulin may cause your baby's blood sugar to drop too low (hypoglycemia). If your baby's blood sugar level drops too low, he or she may need extra sugar, such as a sugar water drink or glucose given intravenously.
  • Your baby's blood may also be checked for low calcium, high bilirubin, and extra red blood cells.

What to think about

Most of the time, the blood sugar levels of women who have gestational diabetes return to normal in a few hours or days after delivery.

If you have had gestational diabetes, you are at risk for having it again in a future pregnancy. You are also at risk of type 2 diabetes, a permanent type of diabetes. The healthy choices and changes you made during your pregnancy, if continued, will help you prevent diabetes in the future. If you are worried about type 2 diabetes in yourself or in your child, talk to your doctor about your concerns.

Most doctors will recommend that you breast-feed, if possible, for the health benefits for you and your baby. For example, breast-feeding can help keep your child at a healthy weight, which may reduce his or her chances of developing diabetes. It provides antibodies to strengthen your baby's immune system. And it lowers your baby's risk for many types of infections. Also, it may lower your chances of developing diabetes later in life.

Breast-Feeding: Should I Breast-Feed My Baby?
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 28, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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