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Prediabetes After Pregnancy: What to Know

Written on December 22, 2023 by Jordan Stachel, MS, RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Many women have blood sugar changes during and after pregnancy. Sometimes, women can become prediabetic after pregnancy. Read this article for everything you need to know.

What Is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a type of insulin resistance that occurs when blood sugar levels remain higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetes.[1] Symptoms of prediabetes can vary but common symptoms include [1]:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased hunger
  • Tiredness
  • Blurry vision
  • Numbness in the hands or feet

If you are experiencing symptoms of prediabetes, it is important to have your hemoglobin A1C checked. This will let you know what the average is for your blood sugar levels over the past 90 days.

Prediabetes can occur at many different life stages, but some pregnant women may be at a higher risk of developing prediabetes postpartum. However, for many women, the blood sugar changes experienced during pregnancy naturally remedy themselves during the postpartum period and do not require treatment or medical intervention.

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How Does Pregnancy Affect Blood Sugar?

For some women, blood sugar levels can become affected and skewed during pregnancy. If blood sugar levels get too high, this can lead to gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes occurs when the hormones that are released during pregnancy that are made by the placenta prevent the body from using insulin effectively.[2] Some hormones, like estrogen and cortisol, can block the effects of insulin. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with gestational diabetes during their pregnancy, it is crucial to get assistance from a qualified healthcare practitioner.

After pregnancy, blood sugar changes are also normal.[3] After a woman gives birth, her body can become a lot more sensitive to insulin. For some people, this is helpful, as they are less likely to run into high blood sugar concerns or contend with prediabetes. This may also naturally resolve gestational diabetes, if applicable. However, if this occurs too rapidly, a woman runs the risk of becoming hypoglycemic (low blood sugar levels).[3] In addition, breastfeeding can also make a woman’s body more sensitive to insulin, as breastfeeding is a nutritionally demanding process.

Although the chance of developing diabetes and prediabetes can be reduced in many cases, some women are at a greater likelihood of developing diabetes or prediabetes after pregnancy.[4] Women may be at a greater risk for developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes if they have the following risk factors after pregnancy [4]:

  • A history of gestational diabetes
  • Are over the age of 25
  • Have a body composition with higher fat mass
  • Are inactive
  • Are African-American, Asian, or Hispanic
  • Have a family history of diabetes

How to Manage Blood Sugar After Pregnancy

If you or someone you know is at an increased risk for prediabetes post-pregnancy, there are many steps to take to try to optimize blood sugar levels, including [5]:

  • Keeping track of blood sugar levels: Testing blood sugar levels regularly can help you better understand them. Consult a qualified healthcare provider for instruction and to oversee the management of levels.
  • Improve nutrition: If your nutrition could use some work, focus on small changes that you can make in your diet to help improve blood sugar levels. Eating regularly, being mindful of carbohydrate intake, and balancing meals and snacks appropriately are all good places to begin. If you would like more personalized recommendations, it is advised to work with a dietitian.
  • Movement: If your movement routine could use some improvement, focus on adding in bouts of movement that you enjoy. Exercise helps to manage blood sugar levels by allowing the body to use glucose to complete these movements, bringing down blood sugar levels.
  • Monitor medications: If you were on blood sugar medications during pregnancy, it is important to revisit dosing and need postpartum with a qualified healthcare provider.

Support Your Overall Health With Everlywell

At Everlywell, we combine the best in modernized, rigorous lab testing with easy-to-access, at-home medicine. We provide a range of blood tests, including our blood sugar test, that you can take from the comfort of your home. Your results will be analyzed in CLIA-certified labs and an experienced healthcare provider will deliver your result. Take control of your health and physical well-being today with Everlywell.

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  1. Prediabetes - Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. Published November 11, 2023. Accessed December 18, 2023.
  2. Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). Johns Hopkins Medicine. Published November 19, 2019. Accessed December 18, 2023.
  3. Diabetes: after delivery (Postpartum). Corewell Health. Accessed December 18, 2023.
  4. Preventing diabetes after pregnancy. University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Accessed December 18, 2023.
  5. Gestational Diabetes - Treatment. National Health Services. Published July 11, 2023. Accessed December 18, 2023.
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