A Guide to Oral Medication Options For Gestational Diabetes

A Guide to Oral Medication Options For Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes, a condition that emerges during pregnancy, affects many women and poses unique health challenges. It’s a temporary condition, but it requires immediate attention to ensure the health and well-being of both mother and baby. While dietary changes and exercise are often the first lines of defense, oral medication may be necessary when these aren’t enough. This blog aims to demystify oral medication for gestational diabetes, different types of medications, their effectiveness, and safety considerations.

When Oral Medication For Gestational Diabetes Needed?

When Oral Medication For Gestational Diabetes Needed?Gestational diabetes occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin to handle the effects of a growing baby and changing hormone levels. The decision to start oral medication is based on several factors:

  • Blood Sugar Levels

If blood glucose levels remain consistently above the target range despite dietary changes and increased physical activity, medication might be needed. The specific blood sugar levels that warrant medication can vary. So it’s essential to follow the guidelines provided by your healthcare provider.

  • Response to Lifestyle Changes

Some women may find it challenging to control their blood sugar levels with diet and exercise alone. Especially if they are diagnosed with gestational diabetes later in their pregnancy or have severe insulin resistance.

  • Gestational Age and Pregnancy Progress

The timing of the diagnosis and the progress of the pregnancy might influence the decision. As the pregnancy progresses, the placenta produces more hormones that can increase insulin resistance, sometimes making medication necessary in the later stages.

  • Health and Medical History

The overall health of the mother, including her medical history, weight, age, and whether she has had gestational diabetes in previous pregnancies, can also influence the decision to start medication.

  • Patient Preference and Feasibility

Some women might prefer to try medication if they find it challenging to adhere to the required lifestyle changes due to personal, social, or economic reasons.

What Are Some Oral Medication For Gestational Diabetes?

What Are The Benefits And Risks?For managing gestational diabetes, several oral medications are commonly prescribed when diet and exercise alone are not sufficient to control blood sugar levels. It’s important to note that the use of these medications during pregnancy is based on their safety profiles and effectiveness. The most commonly used oral medications for gestational diabetes include:


Metformin is often the first choice for oral medication in gestational diabetes. It works by decreasing glucose production in the liver and improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin. This has a long track record of being used in pregnancy and is generally considered safe, although it may not be as effective as insulin in some cases.

Glyburide (Glibenclamide)

This medication belongs to the sulfonylurea class. It stimulates the pancreas to release more insulin. Glyburide is another option for treating gestational diabetes, but it is less commonly used than metformin. Some studies suggest a higher risk of certain adverse pregnancy outcomes with glyburide compared to insulin or metformin. However, it is still considered a safe and effective option for many women.

Other oral medications, like gliclazide, may be used in some regions, but they are less common. The choice of medication depends on several factors, including the individual’s response to the medication, any side effects, and the preferences of the healthcare provider and patient.

It’s important to emphasize that these medications should only be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional who can monitor the pregnancy and adjust treatment as necessary. The primary goal in managing gestational diabetes is to maintain blood glucose levels within a target range to reduce the risk of complications for both the mother and the baby.

What Are The Benefits And Risks?

The use of oral medications for gestational diabetes, primarily metformin and glyburide, comes with its own set of benefits and risks. Understanding these can help in making informed decisions about the management of gestational diabetes.


  • Improved Blood Sugar Control: These medications help in effectively managing blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of high blood sugar-related complications during pregnancy.
  • Non-Invasive: Unlike insulin, which requires injections, oral medications are easier to administer and more convenient for many women.
  • Reduced Insulin Need: In some cases, oral medications may reduce or eliminate the need for insulin therapy.
  • Good Safety Profile: Metformin and glyburide have been widely studied and are generally considered safe for use during pregnancy, although metformin is often preferred due to its longer track record.
  • Additional Health Benefits: Metformin has been associated with other health benefits, such as weight control and a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes post-pregnancy.


  • Potential Side Effects: Metformin can cause gastrointestinal side effects like nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort. And, Glyburide may increase the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and weight gain.
  • Crossing the Placenta: Both medications can cross the placenta, raising concerns about potential effects on the fetus. However, studies so far have not shown significant adverse outcomes.
  • Less Effective than Insulin in Some Cases: In some instances, especially in cases of severe gestational diabetes, oral medications may not be as effective as insulin in controlling blood sugar levels.
  • Risk of Birth Complications: There’s a debate about whether glyburide increases the risk of certain birth complications, like neonatal hypoglycemia and macrosomia (a larger-than-normal baby), compared to insulin or metformin.
  • Limited Long-Term Safety Data: While current data supports the safety of these medications during pregnancy, there is less information available about their long-term effects on the child.

Given these benefits and risks, it’s crucial for the treatment of gestational diabetes with oral medications to be closely monitored by healthcare professionals. Pregnant women should have regular check-ups to monitor their blood sugar levels, adjust medication dosages as necessary, and check the health of the fetus.

Lifestyle Approaches For Gestational Diabetes

Lifestyle Approaches For Gestational DiabetesLifestyle approaches play a critical role in managing gestational diabetes. These non-pharmacological strategies are often the first line of defense in controlling blood sugar levels and ensuring a healthy pregnancy. The key lifestyle approaches include:

Dietary Modifications

  • Balanced Meals: Focus on a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrients. Incorporate plenty of vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats.
  • Carbohydrate Management: Monitor and control carbohydrate intake to avoid spikes in blood sugar. This includes being mindful of the types and quantities of carbs consumed.
  • Consistent Meal Timing: Eat regular meals and snacks to maintain steady blood sugar levels throughout the day.
  • Fiber-Rich Foods: High-fiber foods, like whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables, can help slow down glucose absorption.

Regular Physical Activity

  • Moderate Exercise: Engage in moderate activities such as brisk walking, swimming, or prenatal yoga. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
  • Post-Meal Activity: Short walks after meals can be particularly effective in lowering postprandial (after-meal) blood sugar levels.
  • Consult with a Healthcare Provider: Before starting any exercise program, it’s important for pregnant women, especially those with gestational diabetes, to consult with their healthcare provider.

Weight Management

  • Healthy Weight Gain: Gain weight within recommended guidelines. Excessive weight gain can exacerbate insulin resistance.
  • Monitor Weight Progress: Regularly monitor weight to ensure healthy weight gain based on doctor’s recommendations.

Blood Sugar Monitoring

  • Regular Testing: Regularly check blood sugar levels to understand how different foods and activities affect them.
  • Keeping Records: Maintain a record of blood sugar readings to share with the healthcare provider for better management strategies.

Stress Management

  • Relaxation Techniques: Practices such as deep breathing, meditation, and prenatal yoga can help manage stress.
  • Adequate Rest: Ensure sufficient sleep and rest, as lack of sleep can affect blood sugar control.
  • No Smoking or Alcohol: Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption, as they can complicate blood sugar management and pregnancy.

It’s essential to work closely with healthcare providers, including obstetricians and dietitians, to tailor these lifestyle approaches to individual needs and circumstances. The goal is to maintain blood sugar levels within a target range for the health and safety of both the mother and the baby.


In conclusion, oral medication for gestational diabetes is a crucial part of ensuring a healthy pregnancy and the well-being of both mother and baby. Oral medications like Metformin and Glyburide are available options when lifestyle changes alone are not enough, offering both benefits and considerations to be mindful of. It’s important to remember that every pregnancy is unique. Managing gestational diabetes requires a personalized approach.

With the right information and support, gestational diabetes can be managed successfully, leading to a healthy pregnancy journey. Do you want to get rid of diabetes? Join our online diabetes treatment program and reverse Diabetes naturally through lifestyle changes such as a Personalized Diet plan, Exercise, Yoga, dieticians, and health coaches.