Medications for Gestational Diabetes
by Mary Calvagna, MS
The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medicines listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medicines as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.
Your doctor will try to control your gestational diabetes with diet and exercise. If that is not successful, you may need to take insulin or other medications to control your blood sugar levels.
Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas. Insulin’s main job is to lower blood sugar levels by facilitating the transfer of glucose from the blood to tissue cells. Gestational diabetes occurs when hormones produced during pregnancy block the effects of insulin. This blocking effect creates a condition known as insulin resistance. If diet alone does not control the blood sugar level, insulin is usually prescribed.
There are many different types of insulin that can be prescribed. Some work faster but for shorter periods of time, and others stay in the system all day. Your doctor will choose which type of insulin is correct for you to use.
Treatment aims to keep blood sugar levels within a normal range. The optimum goal for a woman with gestational diabetes is a blood sugar level of:
One important part of taking care of your condition is to monitor your blood sugar levels throughout the day. If you need insulin, your doctor will work with you to calculate the right amount needed to keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range for you. This amount may increase as your pregnancy advances. Also, the dose of insulin may need to be adjusted during times of emotional or physical stress, such as having an infection or exercising a lot.
The main risk of taking insulin is that it can cause your blood sugar to go too low. This can be very dangerous. If you are taking insulin, it is important to notice any strange feelings, such as confusion, sweating, or anxiety. If you have any feelings like this, you should check your blood sugar level. If it is low, it can be increased quickly with by eating or drinking something that has plenty of sugar, like juice or regular cola.
Oral medications work in different ways depending on which type of drug they are. They are not currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for gestational diabetes, your doctor may recommend that you take oral medications to help control your blood sugar levels. Some examples of medications that may be prescribed to control your blood sugar levels include:
Side effects of these medications include:
If you are taking medications, follow these general guidelines:
When to Contact Your Doctor
Call your doctor right away or call for emergency medical services if you have a serious complication to the medication, such as:
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Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG
Last Updated: 9/17/2014
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