Hospital bag list for a GD mother

Do we need a special hospital bag list for gestational diabetes? Well when it comes to food & drink, yes we do! No, you may not be allowed or want to eat during active labour, but some ladies may be in hospital for a while before they are in ‘active’ labour.

Remember, you still have gestational diabetes right up until you deliver your baby and placenta.

Keeping your blood sugar levels stabilised throughout labour is extremely important in order to help your baby regulate their own insulin production. If you have high blood sugar levels during your labour then your baby will overproduce insulin to help process the sugar that is being passed through to them. Once born your baby will continue to overproduce insulin which results in hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels) in the baby.

Hospital bag list

Hospital meals

*Warning! – meals in the hospital are rarely suitable for gestational diabetes patients. Many have ‘diabetic’ options, but you’ll be surprised at what a diabetic option can be! Play safe and pack some things that will help you get through, until you’ve given birth.

An example of a hospital breakfast suitable for those with diabetes

At the bottom of this page you will find a downloadable GD Hospital bag list containing the following info:

  • GD-Friendly Snacks
  • GD-Friendly Drinks
  • Hypo preventatives
  • Blood glucose kit & meds
  • Things for you during labour
  • Toiletries
  • Things for your birthing partner
  • Things for you after giving birth
  • Things for baby
  • Things you mustn’t forget
scroll to the bottom of this page for these downloadable lists

Note: Not all items listed will be applicable to all mothers, but these were all items listed and shared by previous members of the Gestational Diabetes UK Facebook group members.

Energy drinks for labour

You may be advised in birthing classes to pack energy or isotonic drinks for labour. Please note that these drinks will cause extremely high blood sugar levels, which you need to avoid during labour due to the risk of causing your baby to have neonatal hypoglycaemia.

It may be helpful to have a bottle of full-sugar energy drink to hand for sipping in case of low blood sugar levels, however, for general use throughout labour, the zero versions will provide caffeine and will help replenish electrolytes without spiking levels.

No added sugar versions of energy drinks may still contain high amounts of sugar, remember that no added sugar is just that, not sugar-free! Check labels for total carbohydrate amounts.

4g total carbs are equivalent to one teaspoon of sugar and when in the form of liquid it is digested straight away.

Note: The daily recommended amount of caffeine during pregnancy is 200mg or less.

Keeping your blood sugar levels stable is key. Eating your normal GD diet snacks and drinking water to keep you well hydrated will be the best option during long labours or induction. Opt for slow-release carbohydrates, nuts and peanut butter to give you ongoing energy rather than a full sugar drink which spikes blood sugars immediately.

Insulin-treated gestational diabetes patients

If you’re on insulin or Glibenclamide, be prepared by packing your usual hypo treatment items such as orange juice, jelly babies etc. and oatcakes for a carbohydrate to help stabilise levels after treating low levels.

If you can keep your levels stabilised, between 4.0 – 7.0mmol/L then you are less likely to need a sliding scale insulin & glucose drip during labour.

Apple juice and toast to treat my hypos whilst admitted to the hospital

Food after giving birth

After giving birth to the baby and placenta, gestational diabetes will be gone. However, it does take a while for hormones to settle and for blood sugar levels to normalise. So if you test your blood sugar levels, don’t be alarmed if you see high levels.

Any medication started during pregnancy such as Metformin or insulin will be stopped following birth unless otherwise directed by your healthcare professionals.

Following birth, most hospitals will offer the mother a drink and something to eat (typically toast and tea). Enjoy these without worrying about your blood sugar levels, you will need and deserve to have them!

Most hospitals will require at least 2 blood glucose readings within normal parameters before transferring the mother to community care. Ask your hospital what their policy or guidelines are around testing mothers’ blood sugar levels post-birth.

Women diagnosed with gestational diabetes

1.6.8 Before women who were diagnosed with gestational diabetes are transferred to community care, test their blood glucose to exclude persisting hyperglycaemia. [2008]

1.6.9 Remind women who were diagnosed with gestational diabetes of the symptoms of hyperglycaemia. [2008]

1.6.10 Explain to women who were diagnosed with gestational diabetes about the risks of recurrence in future pregnancies, and offer them diabetes testing when planning future pregnancies. [2008, amended 2015]

NICE Guidelines NG3 – Diabetes in pregnancy: management from preconception to the postnatal period

Enjoy your post-birth treats!

Once you’ve given birth, as long as you feel okay, you should be fine to enjoy those post-birth treats you’ve been waiting for!

Mother holding newborn, eating a burger after giving birth
photo credit: Dalijah Franklin

Post-birth diabetes testing

After having your baby, your blood sugar levels should be tested after 6 weeks of giving birth. Take a look at my Post-birth Testing post for further information on this.

Downloadable GD Hospital Bag Lists