Life with Diabetes

How to Treat Gestational Diabetes

Because gestational diabetes can hurt you and your baby, it is critical to start treatment quickly.

Treatment for gestational diabetes aims to keep blood glucose levels equal to those of pregnant women who don't have gestational diabetes. The treatment always includes special meal plans and scheduled physical activity, and it may also include daily blood glucose testing and insulin injections.

If you're testing your blood glucose, the American Diabetes Association suggests the following targets for women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. More or less stringent glycemic goals may be appropriate for each individual.

  • Before a meal (preprandial): 95 mg/dL or less
  • One hour after a meal (postprandial): 140 mg/dL or less
  • Two hours after a meal (postprandial): 120 mg/dL or less

If you’re diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you will need help from your doctor, nurse educator and other members of your health care team so that your treatment can change as needed. For you as the mother-to-be, proper treatment helps lower the risk of a cesarean section birth that very large babies may require.

Sticking with your treatment plan will give you a healthy pregnancy and birth, and may help your baby avoid poor health in the future.

Keeping Worry in Perspective

While gestational diabetes is a cause for concern, the good news is that you and your health care team—your doctor, obstetrician, nurse educator and dietitian—work together to lower your high blood glucose levels. And with this help, you can turn your concern into a healthy pregnancy for you and a healthy start for your baby.

Looking Ahead

Gestational diabetes usually goes away after pregnancy. But once you've had gestational diabetes, your chances are two in three that it will return in future pregnancies. In a few women, however, pregnancy uncovers type 1 or type 2 diabetes. It is hard to tell whether these women have gestational diabetes or have just started showing their diabetes during pregnancy, but they will need to continue diabetes treatment after pregnancy.

Many women who have gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes years later. There seems to be a link between the tendency to have gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes since both involve insulin resistance. However, certain basic lifestyle changes may help prevent diabetes after gestational diabetes. Learn about prevention.

Lower Your Risk by Losing Weight

Are you more than 20% over your ideal body weight? Losing even a few pounds can help you avoid developing type 2 diabetes.

Making Healthy Food Choices

Follow simple daily guidelines like eating a variety of foods including fresh fruits and vegetables, limiting fat intake to 30% or less of daily calories and watching your portion sizes. Healthy eating habits can go a long way in preventing diabetes and other health problems.


Regular exercise allows your body to use glucose without extra insulin. This helps combat insulin resistance and is what makes exercise helpful to people with diabetes. However, it is important to check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.

More on losing weight

Gestational Diabetes Guideline Infographics

View and download these infographics to learn the latest guidelines on screening, treating, and monitoring gestational diabetes: