Skip to content

Health checks after pregnancy

Health professional chatting to client in appointment

After pregnancy, there are a number of health checks recommended for both you and your baby.

This includes a 6-week postnatal health check for you. This will usually be with your GP or obstetrician (pregnancy doctor). Your doctor will ask questions about your physical and emotional health, and your support network. They will also discuss contraception with you. Be sure to remind them that you had gestational diabetes, even if it was just for a short while.

All women who have had gestational diabetes are recommended to have regular follow-up diabetes checks.

Diabetes checks after gestational diabetes

All women who have had gestational diabetes benefit from regular diabetes checks after pregnancy. Diabetes checks show if your blood glucose levels are in the healthy range. Regular diabetes checks help you stay on top of your health.

Woman at health professional visit discussing diabetes checks

Around 1 in every 2 women who have had gestational diabetes will develop pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes within 10-20 years.  This can occur at any time after you have had gestational diabetes.

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes can be difficult to recognise or there may be no symptoms at all. Regular diabetes checks are the only way to know and are part of your recommended care.

Looking after your family, means looking after yourself.

When do I need follow-up diabetes checks?

1. Your first follow-up diabetes check

Your first follow-up diabetes check is recommended 6–12 weeks after pregnancy, or as soon as possible after that time. This check is an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), which is the same as the check most women had to diagnose gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

Some women don’t like the taste of the sugary drink, but the test will not harm you (or your baby, if you are breastfeeding). The check takes about 2 hours. The OGTT is usually free (bulk-billed). Check with your GP, your local pathology provider or your healthcare centre.

“The thing that made it hard was scheduling a time around chaotic newborn routine…what made it easier was knowing that I had family to look after my baby.”

Siew, 36 years

Woman breastfeeding her baby
Mother looking down at baby

“I got a letter reminding me to have a follow-up check. I was a bit reluctant but then I spoke to my doctor, and she said I should have it. I’m glad I did, I felt peace of mind. I think having that test regularly and continuing to have that peace of mind would be worth it.”

Lina, 30 years

2. Every 1 to 3 years

Even if your first diabetes check after pregnancy showed that your blood glucose levels were in the healthy range, you are still at risk of developing pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.

These can develop without any symptoms. Regular diabetes checks are the only way to know.

A diabetes check is recommended every 1 to 3 years. This check can be done by a simple blood test, such as a fasting blood glucose (where you do not eat overnight before the test) or an HbA1c test (fasting not needed), or preferably both.

The type of diabetes check and how often you need to have it, depends on:

“…diabetes is quite silent until you develop complications… what’s really going to give you a sense of what’s going on is visiting your GP and getting some blood tests.”  

Priya, 33 years

Mother holding baby
Woman chatting with friends

“It’s important for women to be aware of what’s going on in their bodies, so the screening is really helpful.” 

Leah, 31 years

3. If you are planning another pregnancy

If you are thinking of having another baby, your GP will suggest a diabetes check every year. This may be an OGTT. This is to make sure your blood glucose levels are in the healthy range before your next pregnancy. Identifying and managing high blood glucose levels before pregnancy can reduce the risk of health problems for you and your baby. Discuss contraception and pregnancy planning with your GP, and the steps you can take to keep yourself healthy. Find more information about planning another pregnancy after gestational diabetes.

“I’ve joined aerobics classes and am doing yoga to stay active… I’m making the changes to reduce my risk of gestational diabetes when I get pregnant.”

Sarah, 26 years

Person in exercise outfit with drink bottle
Woman and child working in vegetable garden

“I want to have another child one day. I want to make sure that I know exactly what my body is doing at that time. So, I have no concerns in doing a diabetes health check regularly.”

Amy, 23 years

Diabetes checks are usually free (bulk billed) if you have a Medicare card and your GP makes the pathology request for you. If you are concerned, you can call the pathology provider listed on your pathology request form to check whether there are any out-of-pocket costs to you.

When you were diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you were registered on the National Gestational Diabetes Register which is part of the NDSS. The Register aims to support women with gestational diabetes to manage their health during, and after, pregnancy. The Register will send you reminders about diabetes checks. The reminders have links to information and services to help you live a healthy life. You can update your contact details here.

Your GP may also keep track of when your diabetes checks are due in their medical records. When you receive a reminder for a diabetes check from the National Gestational Diabetes Register or your GP, make an appointment with your GP for a pathology request. Your GP will advise you on the type of test you need.

Top tips for follow-up diabetes checks

Top tips for follow-up diabetes checks

  • Keep your details up-to-date with the National Gestational Diabetes Register
  • Plan ahead
  • Book it in
  • Follow-up with your GP
  • Stay COVID safe

The Register is here to help. To keep in touch, we need your current postal address, email and mobile number. You can update your details, or opt out, here, or by calling the NDSS Helpline on 1800 637 700.

Plan to act when you receive the diabetes check reminder from the Register. Book in to see your GP to get a pathology request and list any questions that you have.

The OGTT takes about 2 hours. Having your partner, family member or a friend look after baby can make this easier for you. You can breastfeed your baby before or after, but not during the test, so you may need to express breastmilk in advance.

“I’d schedule it in my phone and put a reminder in my calendar.”

Maryam, 29 years

Lady with coffee mug in hand
Woman and child selecting vegetables in a store

“…if you don’t get it done straight away, it’s still worth going as soon as you can.” 

Zahra, 34 years

Visit your GP who will give you a pathology request form for a diabetes check. Some pathology laboratories have online booking services, but most require a phone call.

“I’ve got a letter from the Register reminding me to have a follow-up diabetes check. The letter was my trigger to get it done.” 

Erica, 41 years

Health professional chatting to client in appointment
Child reaching for plate of fruit

“I’ll make sure that I book myself in for the check around my son’s birthday.” 

Linh, 38 years

Visit or phone your GP for results, don’t assume that they are okay. Following up with your GP means that you are putting your health first. Your GP can support you by providing information about steps you can take to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.

All health services have COVID-19 (coronavirus) safety measures in place. You can do your bit by not attending if you are unwell or have COVID symptoms.

Type 2 diabetes can be managed with healthy eating, regular exercise and/or medications.

Your GP is here to support you and can answer your questions. They can help you to register with the NDSS. The NDSS provides access to support and information services, education, programs and subsidised products to assist people to self-manage their life with diabetes.

Find out more about living with type 2 diabetes. This information is also available in languages other than English.

“Early detection is a big deal. If I do get diabetes, it’s more manageable the quicker you get onto it. My children, my family are a big motivation for me, so doing the test is worth it.” 

Anna, 29 years

family walking with child
Mother holding child on lap

“…if I were to develop type 2 diabetes, there are things within my control to make sure that it wouldn’t be a debilitating diagnosis.” 

Jess, 38 years  

Diabetes Australia acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this Country. We recognise their connection to land, waters, winds and culture. We pay the upmost respect to them, their cultures and to their Elders, past and present. We are committed to improving health outcomes for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people affected by diabetes and those at risk.

Learn about the artwork