Reducing Your Risk of Gestational Diabetes
November 16, 2016
Gestational diabetes is a condition that affects pregnant women, typically in their second or third trimesters. It is a condition where women who did not have diabetes before becoming pregnant develop high blood glucose levels. According to a 2014 analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9.2% of pregnant women in the United States develop gestational diabetes.1
Women with gestational diabetes are at risk of high blood pressure, preeclampsia and future diabetes.2 A baby whose mother has gestational diabetes may be at an increased risk of excessive birth weight, premature birth, respiratory distress, low blood sugar and type 2 diabetes later in life.2
How Gestational Diabetes Develops & Treatment Options
While the exact cause of gestational diabetes is not known, scientists have uncovered some indicators of how it can occur. The insulin in our bodies naturally converts the sugar in our blood to energy. During pregnancy, women need up to three times more insulin for this process.1 Ironically, the same hormones that support the placenta can also block insulin in the mother’s body.1 This can lead to insulin resistance and a buildup of high sugar levels in the blood.
Once a woman is diagnosed with gestational diabetes, treatment always includes a special diet and physical activity to lower glucose levels.3 Moms-to-be also may have to take daily blood glucose tests or insulin injections.
Reducing Risk of Gestational Diabetes
Moms-to-be can reduce their risk for gestational diabetes by practicing these tips:
Determine Risk Factors – Family history, weight, age and ethnicity are all risk factors for gestational diabetes. Women with a history of abnormal blood sugar, polycystic ovarian syndrome or gestational diabetes in pervious pregnancies also are at risk.
- Medical Screening – In the second trimester, weeks 24 – 28, your prenatal care provider should test for gestational diabetes. Be sure to follow any recommendations from your doctor about glucose testing, glucose monitoring or lifestyle changes.
- Nutrition – Good nutrition is even more important during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about your specific caloric intake. Generally a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet is ideal. Practice portion control to stay around this goal. Eat 71 grams of protein from lean meat sources as well as plenty of fiber from whole grains, bran, fruit and vegetables. However, be mindful of your fruit consumption. Because they are naturally high in sugar, fruits should be consumed in moderation. You should also limit starchy foods such as potatoes and enriched pasta. When processed by the body, starchy foods are converted to sugar.
- Exercise – Ideally you should start exercising before you become pregnant. Talk to your doctor about exercises that are appropriate for your specific situation. Low-impact activities, such as walking or swimming, are usually ideal. If your doctor approves, aim for 30 minutes of exercise daily.
Your lifestyle choices have a big effect on developing gestational diabetes. Healthy eating and proper prenatal care can help prevent gestational diabetes.
A daily prenatal vitamin is an essential part of prenatal care to support both mothers and babies. Prenate® can be a part of an active nutritional approach in promoting healthy insulin blood levels. Designed for the needs of both moms and babies, Prenate® Vitamin Family helps fill nutritional gaps. Talk to your doctor to see if Prenate® is right for you.
Outlook After Delivery & Future Pregnancies
The good news is that gestational diabetes typically goes away after pregnancy. Unfortunately it’s is likely that gestational diabetes will return in future pregnancies.3 There also appears to be a connection between gestational diabetes and women who develop type 2 diabetes later in life.3 By practicing the risk reduction tips listed here, you may be able to avoid developing diabetes in the future.