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Diabetes and high blood pressure (preeclampsia)

The majority of women have uncomplicated pregnancies and births. Your lead maternity carer (LMC) will be watchful for any pregnancy complications including gestational diabetes  and high blood pressure (preeclampsia), should they arise.


Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is diabetes that happens in pregnancy. It is becoming more common in women of all ethnicities.

Your body gets its major source of energy from glucose. This needs a hormone called insulin. Insulin help glucose move from the blood stream to the muscles and other tissues of the body to be used as energy. In pregnancy, your body needs four times the amount of insulin.

Sometimes hormones from the placenta can block the normal action of insulin. This is called insulin resistance and it's a problem because it allows glucose to build up in the blood.

High blood glucose levels over a long period of time may cause damage to the body, including organ or tissue failure. High blood glucose levels in pregnancy can also cause complications with the developing baby and problems with your baby in the newborn period.

Routine testing between 24-28 weeks helps diagnose women who are affected by gestational diabetes. If your test is outside the accepted range, your LMC may refer you to our diabetes midwives, who are part of our high-risk midwifery team, and provide specialised care for mums with gestational diabetes. They can plan for your ongoing care and help you to manage your blood glucose levels to reduce the chance of complications for you and your baby.

Depending on the severity of your gestational diabetes you may or may not require medication to help control your glucose levels.

Gestational diabetes usually disappears after the birth of your baby.


Gestational diabetes video information


More gestational diabetes information


High blood pressure in pregnancy (preeclampsia)

Your blood pressure will be taken at every antenatal visit.

If your blood pressure is raised above acceptable levels on more than one occasion, this is known as preeclampsia [PDF, 604 KB]. Your LMC will discuss with you the need for further investigations to ensure the wellbeing of you and your unborn baby.

One of the main reasons why your LMC needs to check your blood pressure and urine at every antenatal appointment is to check for signs of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia complicates about 8% of pregnancies and is a multi-organ disease unique to pregnancy. It is identified by high blood pressure and protein in your urine, with or without swelling.