Management of Diabetes in Pregnancy

30 May, 2024

The Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) has released comprehensive guidelines for the management of diabetes in pregnancy. These guidelines aim to improve maternal and foetal outcomes by providing clear recommendations for healthcare professionals. This article summarises the key aspects of these guidelines and their implications for clinical practice.


Diabetes in pregnancy, whether pre-existing or gestational, poses significant risks to both mother and baby. Proper management is crucial to minimise complications and ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery. The new SIGN guidelines offer evidence-based strategies to optimise care for pregnant women with diabetes.

Key Recommendations

  • Pre-conception Care: Women with pre-existing diabetes should receive pre-conception counselling and care to achieve optimal glycaemic control before conception. This reduces the risk of congenital anomalies and other complications.
  • Screening and Diagnosis: Routine screening for gestational diabetes is recommended for all pregnant women, particularly those with risk factors such as obesity, family history of diabetes, or previous gestational diabetes. Early diagnosis allows for timely intervention and management.
  • Glycaemic Targets: The guidelines specify target blood glucose levels for pregnant women to maintain tight glycaemic control. This includes fasting, pre-meal, and post-meal glucose targets to prevent hyperglycaemia and associated risks.

Management Strategies

  • Lifestyle Modifications: Emphasis is placed on dietary advice and physical activity to help manage blood glucose levels. Individualised nutritional plans and regular exercise are key components of managing diabetes during pregnancy.
  • Medication Management: For women unable to achieve glycaemic targets through lifestyle modifications alone, medication may be necessary. The guidelines discuss the use of insulin and oral hypoglycaemic agents, highlighting the importance of personalised treatment plans.
  • Monitoring and Follow-Up: Regular monitoring of blood glucose levels, foetal growth, and maternal health is essential. The guidelines recommend frequent follow-ups with healthcare providers to adjust treatment plans as needed.

Delivery and Postpartum Care

  • Delivery Planning: The guidelines provide recommendations for the timing and mode of delivery to reduce risks for both mother and baby. They suggest planning deliveries at 37-39 weeks gestation, depending on maternal and foetal conditions.
  • Postpartum Care: Postpartum management includes monitoring for postpartum diabetes and providing breastfeeding support. Women with gestational diabetes should be re-evaluated for diabetes 6-12 weeks postpartum and regularly thereafter.

Implications for Healthcare Providers

  • Multidisciplinary Approach: The guidelines advocate for a multidisciplinary team approach, involving obstetricians, endocrinologists, dietitians, and diabetes educators, to provide comprehensive care.
  • Education and Support: Educating patients about the importance of glycaemic control and providing psychological support is vital for managing diabetes in pregnancy. Healthcare providers should offer continuous education and resources to empower women to manage their condition effectively.


The SIGN guidelines for the management of diabetes in pregnancy offer a thorough and evidence-based approach to improving maternal and foetal outcomes. By adhering to these recommendations, healthcare professionals can better support pregnant women with diabetes, ensuring safer pregnancies and healthier babies.


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