In most cases, gestational diabetes goes away soon after childbirth due to a sudden decrease in pregnancy hormones and related insulin resistance.

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes. It develops during pregnancy in a person who did not previously have diabetes.

Increased hormone production during pregnancy affects how the body uses insulin, which can lead to gestational diabetes.

Pregnancy hormones and insulin resistance rapidly decrease straight after birth, typically resulting in blood sugar returning to a typical level. However, if gestational diabetes does not go away shortly after birth, a person has type 2 diabetes.

This article examines how to help prevent, treat, and manage diabetes postpartum.

Two parents with a child, one parent has gestational diabetes postpartum. -1Share on Pinterest
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most cases of gestational diabetes will go away shortly after delivery.

During pregnancy, the body produces many hormones to support fetal growth. These hormones affect how the body uses insulin. In some people, this can lead to insulin resistance, where the body cannot use insulin effectively.

In the late stages of pregnancy, there is a significant increase in insulin resistance, which can lead to gestational diabetes. Immediately after giving birth, pregnancy hormone levels should rapidly decrease, resolving pregnancy-related insulin resistance in many people.

After birth, breastfeeding or nursing may also help reduce blood sugar and insulin levels and may help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.

If people have gestational diabetes during pregnancy, it is best for them to visit a doctor for diabetes testing around 4–12 weeks after giving birth. After this, people will need testing every 1–3 years to check their blood sugar is within the recommended range.

If gestational diabetes continues for longer than usual after birth, it is type 2 diabetes.

Risk factors for gestational diabetes developing into diabetes postpartum include:

According to a 2019 study, around 5% of people who had gestational diabetes may develop type 2 diabetes in the first 6 months after birth, and 10% may develop diabetes 1–2 years after giving birth.

Exercising, eating a balanced, nutritious diet, and regular testing for diabetes may help prevent people from developing type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes may not cause any symptoms. If people do experience symptoms of diabetes, they may include:

Treating and managing gestational diabetes postpartum may include the following:

  • taking insulin exactly as a doctor prescribes
  • eating foods suitable for those with diabetes
  • getting at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise daily, which helps manage blood sugar
  • monitoring blood sugar regularly
  • nursing if possible, as this may reduce blood sugar and insulin levels and increase how many calories the body uses
  • visiting a doctor for blood glucose testing
  • following lifestyle recommendations from a doctor in the following years to help prevent developing type 2 diabetes

Gestational diabetes may increase the risk of developing postpartum depression. This may be due to stress related to having diabetes or the effects of insulin resistance on the brain and how the body responds to stress.

Gestational diabetes can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the months or years following childbirth.

Gestational diabetes also increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, liver disease, and stroke.

For most people, gestational diabetes will resolve shortly after giving birth.

In up to 50% of cases, people with gestational diabetes may develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years of giving birth.

Attending all recommended diabetes tests, monitoring blood sugar, eating a balanced, nutritious diet, and exercising regularly may help treat gestational diabetes postpartum and prevent type 2 diabetes.

A healthcare professional can help people to manage and treat gestational diabetes. They can also help people take steps to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.

People may find it helpful to talk with a dietician about developing a meal plan to help manage or prevent diabetes.

People will need to visit a doctor 4–12 weeks after birth for a blood sugar test, and will need to attend diabetes testing every 1–3 years after.

People may also find extra support by joining a diabetes prevention program, a weight loss support group, or a postpartum exercise group.

Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and usually goes away soon after giving birth. If gestational diabetes continues long term after giving birth, it is type 2 diabetes.

Eating a nutritious, balanced diet, exercising regularly, and attending regular diabetes tests after pregnancy can all help people manage postpartum diabetes and prevent complications.