Clinicians issue advice to women who develop diabetes in pregnancy

11 June 2024

Around half of women who develop diabetes in pregnancy – called ‘gestational diabetes’ – will be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes within the next five years. They also have an increased risk of developing the condition for the rest of their lives. This is according to research endorsed by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. 

At the start of Diabetes Week (10-16 June 2024), NHS Suffolk and North East Essex is advising all women who have had gestational diabetes to take up the offer of a place on the free Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, which will help them to reduce their risk.

Gestational diabetes can lead to the baby growing larger than usual, premature labour or birth complications and increased risk of admission to the neo-natal unit. It is also linked to high blood pressure and the complications that can cause.

Being overweight can increase the likelihood of developing the condition. Women with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or more before pregnancy are more at risk than those who are in the healthy BMI range and they are offered screening for diabetes in pregnancy.

Anyone who is planning a pregnancy should try to achieve a healthy weight, be active, and look after their wellbeing before they get pregnant. This can reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and other complications. Are you ready to conceive? | Tommy’s ( provides evidence-based information on how to prepare for pregnancy.

People from South Asian, Black African and African Caribbean backgrounds are also more likely to develop gestational diabetes but the reason for this is not known.

Donna Murray, midwife at Colchester Hospital, said: “I would advise all women who have had gestational diabetes to be mindful of their own risk factors and the serious risk diabetes in pregnancy poses to them developing Type 2 diabetes at some point in the future. Type 2 diabetes can lead to serious and life-changing health complications.

“I would urge all women who have – or have had – diabetes in pregnancy to register as soon as possible for the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, which is proved to help people reduce their individual risk.”

The programme supports people at risk to take steps towards leading a healthy lifestyle in ways that fit in with their own individual daily routines.

It also provides support with problem-solving and reducing stress and it shows how people can develop coping skills to manage some of the factors that can cause them to lead an unhealthy lifestyle.

The programme is offered in a number of different ways and people can choose the type of session that suits them best: face-to-face group sessions, virtual group sessions,  1-1 telephone sessions or 1-1 digital sessions via an app. They are all delivered by specially trained health and wellbeing coaches. The time commitment is just 19 hours spread over nine months. Group sessions are also available in Bengali Shudo, Bengali Sylheti, Punjabi and Urdu either virtually or on a 1-1 basis via the app. Other languages are offered exclusively via the app.

Peter Gray, Engagement Lead for Xyla, which delivers the prevention programme for the NHS in Suffolk and north east Essex said, “People are 37% less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes after completing the Healthier You: Diabetes Prevention Programme compared with others who are similarly at risk and do not take part.

“It could be the best few hours a woman with a history of gestational diabetes spends to support her long-term health. We know that diabetes places a significant burden on patients in both the time and energy required to manage the condition properly and live well with it.”

Kelly Gregory with midwife Donna Murray
Kelly Gregory with midwife Donna Murray

Kelly Gregory, from Sible Hedingham, has gestational diabetes and is 28 weeks pregnant. She had the condition in her previous pregnancy as well and there is a history of Type 2 diabetes in her family.  She is keen to promote the importance of prevention: “After my first baby was born in 2020, I took up the offer of annual blood glucose checks from my GP as I want to do everything I can to prevent myself developing Type 2 diabetes. It’s hard to live with and would affect my day-to-day life.

“I’ve now registered for the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme and I can’t wait to start it as soon as I feel ready after the birth of my baby. I’m looking forward to the support it will give me as an individual to make the changes necessary to protect myself as much as possible.”

Anyone who has had gestational diabetes can join the programme by visiting or by calling their GP surgery if they are not online. Those who currently have gestational diabetes can register for a place but cannot start the programme until after they have given birth.

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