Women with gestational diabetes need to put their own health first to prevent them from developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

That’s the message from University of Adelaide Robinson Research Institute PhD graduate Emer Van Ryswyk, who released a study as part of World Diabetes Day this week.

Dr Ryswyk reviewed more than 40 studies from around the world and found women are often too busy being a mum to pay attention to their own lifestyle.

“After giving birth, women settle into life as a new mother, or with an extra child,” she says.

“This can contribute to them neglecting their own health for the sake of their children.”

Many felt they would benefit from diabetes screening test reminders, advice and follow-up appointments.

Dr Van Ryswyk says five to eight per cent of women develop gestational diabetes when they are pregnant.

For those women, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes within 10 years of pregnancy is 20 to 50 per cent.

“It is important to recognise that a diagnosis of gestational diabetes can be highly emotional for a mother,” Dr Van Ryswyk says.

“It can be associated with the loss of a ‘normal’ or ‘perfect’ pregnancy experience.”

Counselling and information should be available as well as positive interactions with clinical staff, she says.

When women were criticized or when people made assumptions about their diet and lifestyle, they were less likely to seek advice in the future.