Diabetes in Pregnancy – Physiotherapy Advice

Phyisotherapy advicse for Gestational Diabetes
Often times a diagnosis of diabetes in pregnancy also known as Gestational diabetes mellitus  (GDM), can be overwhelming and cause feelings of fear and helplessness.

What is GDM?

​During pregnancy, the hormonal changes can cause insulin resistance resulting in an increase in blood sugar levels. If the level is too high it can be a health risk to both mom and baby.

If you have been recently diagnosed, your doctor or obstetrician may prescribe various treatment methods to help you manage this. Physical activity and resistance training is recognized as helpful adjunct to managing GDM. The benefits  and importance of exercise are in pregnancy alone are countless but in GDM this also offers:

  • improved physical health and well being
  • improved control of blood sugar levels
  • reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes beginning in the postpartum period
  • weight management

At Inner Active Pelvic Health, our physiotherapists are specially trained in working with pregnant women who have gestational diabetes. If your doctor has given you the all OK to exercise during this time one of our physiotherapists can assist and help you identify an effective and safe program. When choosing to exercise with GDM they can help you with the following:

  • Type of exercise – identify an exercise that is appropriate to your level of capability and most importantly something that you ENJOY! Swimming, walking, low-impact aerobics, modified aerobics, lightweight strength training are just a few examples of activities considered safe during pregnancy. Frequency – how often and when to exercise are important parameters to establish and ensure your workout is safe and effective.
    • Exercise therapy with reformer pilates. We now have specific group classes for pregnancy that are run by a physiotherapist. These small group classes offer customized exercises delivered under supervision making sure they are appropriate for you.
  • How much to exercise- According to the WHO it is recommended that women with GDM perform aerobic or resistance exercise at a moderate intensity for 20-30 mins, 3-4 times per week. Your physiotherapist can help you come up with an exercise program
  • When to stop: It is important to understand the warning signs to reduce or stop exercising:
    • pain: chest, pelvic, back
    • vaginal bleeding,
    • amniotic fluid loss/leakage
    • swelling- hands, feet, legs or face dizziness,
    • faintness or nausea,
    • shortness of breath
    • high heart rate poor balance reduced foetal movement
  • How hard to exercise also known as intensity – understand how to monitor the level of work: use of the talk test, heart rate, and exertion rating scales are some of the strategies we are able to assist you with.

If you would like more information about exercising and GDM and how physiotherapy can help, then don’t hesitate to get in touch. Contact us at our main clinic or can leave a message in the chatbox below.

Tafy Seade

Principal physiotherapist

Inner Active Pelvic Health and Physio



Bung P, Artal R, Khodiguian N and Kjos S 1991. Exercise in Gestational Diabetes: An Optional Therapeutic Approach? Diabetes, vol 40, 182 – 185

Diabetes Australia www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/gestational-diabetes  

Gestational Diabetes: caring for yourself and your baby

Harrison A, Shields N, Taylor N and Frawley H 2016. Exercise improves glycemic control in women diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus: a systematic review. Journal of Physiotherapy, vol 62, 188 – 196

Harrison A, Taylor N, Frawley H, Shields N 2019. Women with gestational diabetes mellitus want clear and practical messages from credible sources about physical activity during pregnancy: a qualitative study. Journal of Physiotherapy, vol 65, 37 – 42

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