FAQs

People ask a number of questions about the NDSS. We have listed some of the more frequently asked ones below. If you have a question that is not listed below, please contact us or call the Helpline on 1300 136 588.

How is gestational diabetes diagnosed?

Gestational diabetes is diagnosed using an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). This is done at a pathology lab. You will need to fast overnight before having this test.

Blood will be taken to check your fasting blood glucose level. After this, you will be given a sugary drink and have your blood tested one and two hours later. You will be asked to sit and wait between tests.

If your blood glucose level is above the normal range at your fasting, one or two hour test, you have gestational diabetes.

All pregnant women should be tested for gestational diabetes. This is usually done between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy (except those women who already have diabetes), however it may be done earlier for women who have risk factors for gestational diabetes. 

What causes gestational diabetes?

In pregnancy, the placenta produces hormones that help the baby grow and develop. These hormones also block the action of the mother’s insulin. This is called insulin resistance. Because of this insulin resistance, the need for insulin in pregnancy is 2 to 3 times higher than normal. If you already have insulin resistance, then your body may not be able to cope with the extra demand for insulin production. This results in gestational diabetes.

When the pregnancy is over and blood glucose levels return to normal the diabetes disappears, however this insulin resistance increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

How common is gestational diabetes?

12-14% of all pregnant women develop gestational diabetes; however the incidence is higher in certain ethnic groups.

Can I reduce my risk of getting gestational diabetes?

The risk of getting gestational diabetes is lessened by maintaining a healthy lifestyle prior to pregnancy. This includes being a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet and well-balanced diet and exercising regularly.

If you get gestational diabetes do you get diabetes for life?

No. In most cases gestational diabetes does not continue once the baby is born. However all women who have had gestational diabetes are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Can gestational diabetes affect my baby?

If diabetes is not well looked after (i.e. blood glucose levels remain high), it may cause problems such as a large baby, which in turn can create the risk of injury at delivery, caesarean delivery, forceps delivery and a need for the baby to be looked after in special care until the glucose level stabilises after delivery. Other complications may include pregnancy loss and premature delivery. If any problems occur, the hospital will know how to care for you and your baby.

Will my baby be born with diabetes?

No. Your baby will not be born with diabetes. Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes may be at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

What happens after my baby is born?

After your baby is born, gestational diabetes usually disappears. 

You will be advised to have an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) 6–12 weeks after your baby is born (or as soon as possible after this time). This is to check that your blood glucose levels have returned to normal.

Depending on your risk factors, you will also need to be tested for type 2 diabetes again every one to three years. Ask your doctor for more information.

Can I breastfeed if I have gestational diabetes?

Breastfeeding is recommended for all women, including women with gestational diabetes. Breastfeeding provides the best start for your baby and can help you to return to your pre-pregnancy weight.

What if I don’t want to be part of the register?

From 1 July 2011 all women with gestational diabetes who register with the NDSS will automatically have their details added to the National Gestational Diabetes Register. If you do not want to be part of this register please fill in the online opt-out form available on this website by clicking here.

What if I have previously had gestational diabetes but am not registered with the NDSS?

Even if your baby has already been born, you can opt in to the National Gestational Diabetes Register to ensure you receive information on yours and your child’s long-term health to avoid developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Please email ngdr@diabetesaustralia.com.au to opt-in to the National Gestational Diabetes Register