Postnatal experiences, knowledge and perceptions of women with gestational diabetes

Diabet Med. 2018 Apr;35(4):519-529. doi: 10.1111/dme.13580. Epub 2018 Feb 6.


Aim: Women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) are at increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. This study aimed to explore experiences, knowledge and perceptions of women with GDM to inform the design of interventions to prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 16 women with GDM who were recruited from a clinic in one Scottish health board. A framework approach was used to manage and analyse data according to themes informed by psychological theory (self-regulation model and theory of planned behaviour).

Results: GDM is not seen as an important, or even real diagnosis among some women, and this perception may result from the perceived minimal impact of GDM on their lives. Some women did experience a bigger emotional and practical impact. Knowledge and understanding of Type 2 diabetes was poor in general and many women were unconcerned about their future risk. Lower concern appeared to be linked to a lower perceived impact of GDM. Lifestyle changes discussed by women mostly related to diet and were motivated primarily by concern for their baby's health. Many women did not maintain these changes postnatally, reporting significant barriers.

Conclusions: This study has suggested potential avenues to be explored in terms of content, timing and potential recipients of interventions. Educational interventions postnatally could address illness perceptions in women with GDM and redress the situation where lack of aftercare downplays its seriousness. For lifestyle interventions, the child's health could be used as a motivator within the context of later joint or family interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Comprehension
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / psychology
  • Diabetes, Gestational / psychology*
  • Diet
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Exercise / psychology
  • Female
  • Guilt
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Healthy Lifestyle
  • Humans
  • Maternal Age
  • Middle Aged
  • Parity
  • Perception
  • Postnatal Care
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult