Prevent Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes begins about halfway through pregnancy. It is fairly easy to manage by controlling blood sugar and monitoring diet. But if untreated, gestational diabetes can lead to birth complications, such as a large head or delivery by c-section.
After pregnancy, most women with gestational diabetes return to normal blood sugar levels, but they are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Tips for Preventing Gestational Diabetes
- Know your risk. Women who are obese and have a strong family history of diabetes are at the highest risk, and women who have previously developed gestational diabetes or have given birth to large babies are more likely to develop the disease. If you are high risk, get your blood sugar tested early in pregnancy and again at 24 weeks. Older women are also more likely to develop diabetes.
- Improve your diet. While the causes of gestational diabetes are still widely unknown, studies have shown a link between unhealthy diets and a greater risk for the disease. Women whose diets were high in animal fat before pregnancy were at the highest risk, and an abundance of cholesterol increased women’s risk by 45 percent. Try maintaining a diet rich in fiber, whole grains, and vegetables. Here is a guide to eating a healthy breakfast!
- Make a plan for your pregnancy. Ask your doctor to help you prepare yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Learn what your target weight should be at each stage of your pregnancy, and try to stay within a safe range.
- Exercise. Your exercise habits prior to and during pregnancy make a big difference in your risk for gestational diabetes. Talk with a health care provider to develop a safe exercise program during your pregnancy.
These tips are not guaranteed to prevent gestational diabetes, as its exact causes are unknown. It is a genetic disease, and some women will never develop it no matter how unhealthy their lifestyle is. Others may get it even with a healthy diet and exercise schedule. Women diagnosed with gestational diabetes can keep it in check through dietary changes and careful control of blood sugar.