What are the Side Effects of Gestational Diabetes

What are the Side Effects of Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. Similar to typical diabetes cases, gestational diabetes results in abnormally high blood sugar levels, posing risks to both the mother and the baby. While these issues typically resolve after delivery, there can be complications during childbirth and potential long-term effects in some cases. It’s essential for pregnant women to receive proper medical monitoring and management of gestational diabetes to minimize risks and ensure the health of both mother and baby.


During gestational diabetes, excess sugar in the mother’s bloodstream can lead to high levels of sugar in the baby’s bloodstream as well. This prompts the unborn baby’s pancreas to produce an excess of insulin to process the sugar, resulting in the baby gaining extra weight. This condition, known as macrosomia, can lead to complications during delivery due to the baby’s larger size.

Macrosomic babies, or babies with excessive birth weight, can pose challenges during delivery. Their size may make it difficult for them to pass through the birth canal, potentially resulting in shoulder dystocia, where the baby’s shoulder becomes stuck during delivery. In such cases, special procedures may be required to safely deliver the baby. Additionally, if the baby is too large to pass through the birth canal, a caesarean section may be performed.

The challenges associated with delivering a macrosomic baby can also increase the risk of vaginal injuries for the mother, as well as the need for a larger than usual episiotomy, which is a surgical incision made to widen the vaginal opening during childbirth. Therefore, proper management and monitoring of gestational diabetes are crucial to reduce the risk of complications for both the mother and the baby during delivery.


Women with gestational diabetes have been found to be twice as likely to develop pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia is a condition characterized by high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine. This condition causes blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow to vital organs. Pre-eclampsia poses a potentially dangerous situation for both the mother and the baby, and the only definitive treatment is delivery of the baby. Therefore, close monitoring and management of gestational diabetes are essential to reduce the risk of developing pre-eclampsia and ensure the health and safety of both the mother and the baby.

Post Delivery

Mothers with gestational diabetes may experience post-delivery side effects, such as low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) shortly after giving birth. This occurs because the baby’s body continues to produce excess insulin to process the extra sugar from the mother’s blood during pregnancy. In severe cases of hypoglycemia, intravenous glucose administration may be necessary, as this condition can lead to seizures.

After delivery, the baby may develop certain complications, including polycythemia (an increase in red blood cell count), hypocalcemia (low blood calcium levels), or jaundice (a liver condition). While these conditions typically resolve on their own, close monitoring is essential to address any emerging problems. Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes are also at higher risk of respiratory issues and may require medical assistance until their lung function improves.

Furthermore, the effects of gestational diabetes can have long-lasting consequences. Children born to mothers with gestational diabetes may be at increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life. Therefore, it’s crucial for both mother and child to receive appropriate medical care and monitoring to mitigate the potential long-term effects of gestational diabetes.