A transformed pregnancy: the psychosocial consequences of gestational diabetes

Erma Jean Lawson, Shireen Rajaram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Gestational diabetes (i.e. diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy) has important implications for maternal and foetal well‐being. This paper presents an ethnographic study of gestational diabetes, an unexpected, potentially life‐threatening illness diagnosed during the second half of pregnancy. While previous research has conceptualised gestational diabetes as producing few consequences since it commonly disappears after delivery, this study explores the meaning women attach to the disorder. It found that gestational diabetes had a profound effect on the respondents, resulting in fear, depression and anxiety. The respondents' imagery of diabetes as a debilitating disease concomitant with blindness, amputations, and premature death generated increased anxiety throughout pregnancy and six‐weeks postpartum. The personal disruption in complying with the diabetic regimen as well as health care provider transactions exaggerated the unique stress of a ‘normal’ pregnancy. We suggest that a strictly medical view of gestational diabetes minimises its broader psychosocial significance and recommend effective provider‐patient interactions with ‘high‐risk’ pregnant women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)536-562
Number of pages27
JournalSociology of Health & Illness
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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