Please DO NOT DELETE this page.

Blog //
  • Wellbeing

Understanding gestational diabetes

20 March, 2020

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that first occurs during pregnancy. When the pregnancy is over, the diabetes usually disappears. According to Diabetes Australia, gestational diabetes is the fastest growing form of diabetes in Australia and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that gestational diabetes affected 15% of all women who gave birth in hospital in 2016-2017. Women who have gestational diabetes are also at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future. If gestational diabetes is not well managed, it can result in serious complications such as premature birth, miscarriage and stillbirth. However, when gestational diabetes is found early, and well controlled, there are significantly lower risks to the baby and mother. 

What causes gestational diabetes?

Diabetes occurs when a person’s blood sugar (glucose) levels are too high. Insulin is the hormone responsible for controlling the amount of sugar in your blood. Your blood sugar levels become higher if your body doesn’t make enough insulin or if your insulin doesn’t work as well as it should. When a woman is pregnant, the placenta produces hormones that block the action of insulin in the body, resulting in insulin resistance. If you already had some level of insulin resistance before you were pregnant, then your body might not be able to cope with the increase in demand for insulin production. This means that your blood glucose levels will be higher and may result in gestational diabetes.

Who’s most at risk?

You may be at higher risk of developing gestational diabetes if you:

  • are over 40 years of age
  • have a family history of type 2 diabetes
  • are overweight or obese
  • are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent
  • are of particular cultural groups, such as Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese or Middle Eastern
  • take some antipsychotic or steroid medications
  • have previously had gestational diabetes
  • have had a baby weighing more than 4.5kg
  • have polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • have had a previous complicated pregnancy

Symptoms of gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes often doesn’t have any symptoms, but you may experience:

  • increased thirst
  • excessive urination
  • thrush (yeast infections)
  • tiredness

How is gestational diabetes diagnosed?

A pregnancy oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) is used to diagnose gestational diabetes. It involves a blood sample that’s taken before and after a glucose drink. It usually happens between weeks 24 and 28 of the pregnancy.

Managing gestational diabetes

Health professionals, such as your doctor, dietician, or health care nurse or diabetes specialist can support you in managing your gestational diabetes.


Eating a varied and nutritious diet can help you to manage your blood glucose level. If you have diabetes, it’s recommended that you eat regular meals and eat small amounts often. You should also try to have some carbohydrates in each meal or snack. You should try to avoid carbohydrates that don’t have a high nutritional benefit such as cakes, biscuits, and soft drinks. It’s important to choose foods that are low in saturated fat and high in fibre.

It may also be helpful to see a dietitian who can advise you on the right nutrients for you and your growing baby. You can find out more about managing gestational diabetes at Diabetes Australia.


Moderate physical activity is especially important in managing gestational diabetes as it helps to reduce insulin resistance and manage blood glucose levels. Moderate physical activity means a slight but noticeable increase in breathing and heart rate. It’s always best to see your obstetrician or midwife before starting an exercise program.

Monitoring your blood glucose levels

By monitoring your blood glucose levels, you’re able to see if the lifestyle changes you are making are having an impact on your gestational diabetes. If you can’t control your blood glucose levels by healthy eating or physical activity alone, your doctor may suggest medication. These medications may include insulin injections or metformin. Your doctor or diabetes nurse educator will teach you how to monitor your blood glucose levels and tell you what blood glucose levels to aim for.

Insulin injections

If you need insulin injections to keep your blood sugar level within the normal range, it’s important to learn how to safely inject insulin and understand how insulin works. Your diabetes educator or doctor can tell you this information. You can also read more about insulin and diabetes at the Western Australia Department of Health.

After your baby is born

Your insulin injections will most likely stop after your baby is born and this is because many women’s blood glucose levels return to optimal levels after their baby’s birth. An oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) is done six to 12 weeks after birth  to make sure the diabetes has gone away. The blood glucose level of your baby will also be measured.

If you have gestational diabetes, it doesn’t mean that your baby will have diabetes, but they have a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life. It does mean that there is a higher chance that you will develop type 2 diabetes later in your life. It’s possible to prevent type 2 diabetes. To find out more read about diabetes prevention at Healthdirect Australia.


All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified health care professional.


Suggested Articles

  • An image of nutrient-rich vegetarian Mexican bow

    Mexican in a bowl

    If you can’t go out for Mexican, make it at home! This nutrient-rich vegetarian Mexican bowl is a quick and easy dinner.
    • Nutrition
    19 May 2020
  • Private Hospital Benefits at Healthscope Group Hospitals

    Private Hospital Benefits at Healthscope Group Hospitals

    CBHS has agreements with over 500 private hospitals across Australia including the Healthscope Group of Hospitals (Healthscope).
    • Membership
    18 May 2020
  • 2003_COVID19_Blog-08

    Financial assistance to members who hold Extras cover

    Here is what we are doing to support our members from both a health and financial perspective through the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • News
    • Membership
    6 May 2020
  • 2003_COVID19_Blog-08

    CBHS COVID-19 Health and Financial Assistance Program

    Here is what we are doing to support our members from both a health and financial perspective through the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • News
    • Membership
    27 April 2020

What Our Members Think

I joined as a CBHS member in 1978. Through many health events and challenges CBHS has always been there for me and my family. Their exceptional service over this time has always been appreciated.

- Jenny J

What Our Members Think

I've not long joined CBHS from another fund, but so far I've been impressed by the super helpful and friendly staff, the higher claim limits and rebates at a very competitive premium, and how easy it is to lodge manual claims through the app. Thanks CBHS - you've won me over! 😃

- Jessica B

What Our Members Think

What I love about CBHS is their customer service - friendly staff and always ready to help and email you the information you ask about. Keep up the great work!!!

- Linda S

What Our Members Think

I love CBHS as its so so easy to lodge a claim and whenever i need a question answered friendly consultant is one phone call away. The phone back option instead of waiting is brilliant!

- Rachel N

What Our Members Think

I have been with CBHS since I began at CBA 15 years ago...Now I have three beautiful children, one who has a disability. Our top extras cover has been really essential for his early intervention. I do love the ease of claiming online.

- Annette E

What Our Members Think

I am relatively new to CBHS and am loving it already. I worked for a CBA subsidiary a long time ago but was still eligible to join. So much better that the for-profit funds - our premium is only a little more and we pay a lower co-contribution and get great benefits. I am loving the massage rebate for my partner and gym rebate for me!

- David G

What Our Members Think

I'm extremely happy with CBHS! I have been a customer for about six years. I think the price is reasonable. And i would refer you to my family and friends any day. Thank you CBHS!!!

- Karen W

What Our Members Think

Love CBHS as I never have to doubt that they've got my back when I need it. Been through other insurers who have limited options or limits, yet cost the same or more.

- Mark F