Many women develop diabetes during pregnancy, also referred to as gestational diabetes. It happens to at least 9% of pregnant women, irrespective of their lifestyle and heredity. Women who have gestational diabetes will have higher blood sugar level than what is normal in pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes can be confused with diabetic pregnant women. They are quite different conditions and therefore the treatment is also different. If you are diagnosed with diabetes during pregnancy, it is better to get treated right away to eliminate prolonged health risks to you and your baby.
Causes of Diabetes During Pregnancy
Causes of gestational diabetes aren’t fully clear and understood yet, and although in some, it cannot be prevented, we can try to lower the chances of getting it by staying cautious and healthy, and checking on the weight.
Some of the risk factors that are associated with the development of diabetes during pregnancy are;
- Pregnancy after 30
- Parents or close relative having Type 2 Diabetes
- Unhealthy lifestyle
- Having abnormal levels of blood glucose prior to pregnancy
- Acanthosis Nigricans (Skin pigmentation disorder) and
- Other insulin resistance symptoms
Studies have also shown that certain ethnic groups like Asian-American, Hispanic and African- American have higher chances of developing this condition during pregnancy.
Prevention of Gestational Diabetes
You can prevent diabetes during pregnancy only before you get pregnant. There are number of ways to lower the occurrence of gestational diabetes.
Maintain A Healthy Weight Before Pregnancy
If you are planning for a baby make sure that your weight is normal. But, if you are overweight, it does not mean you will for sure develop diabetes. However, it does increase the chances.
And moreover, obesity will certainly bring other complications during pregnancy. So it is better to stay safe.
Always make sure your BMI (Body Mass Index) is below 30.
Women with BMI of 30 and above will be asked to get a glucose tolerance test done for blood glucose level assessment.This test would be prescribed before you get into the 16th week of pregnancy.
It is very important that you lose weight before pregnancy because high blood glucose level may cause some percentage of glucose to transfer in to your baby, leading to excessive growth or Macrosomia.
Note: Losing weight during pregnancy is totally discouraged. And weight gain during pregnancy is entirely expected and encouraged.
Eat A Balanced Diet
If you eat the right food during pregnancy chances of developing any complications, including gestational diabetes will lower.
Don’t eat anything that increases the blood glucose level such as desserts, chocolates, too much of carbs and starchy food.
There’s no special diet for prevention of diabetes during pregnancy. However, when pregnant, a normal and hearty diet will lead to healthy growth of the baby.
Eat vegetables, greens, whole grains and pulses. Avoid processed foods or tinned foods, even fruits.
Your doctor is the best diet consultant during the period. Follow his advice.
Keep Moving and Stay Active
Physical exercises that aren’t strenuous to the womb can be performed every day for a complication-free pregnancy.
Make sure you exercise 20- 30 minutes every day. Your exercise shouldn’t involve weight lifting however.
Some of the exercises that you can add in your daily routine are yoga, walking, swimming, and cycling.
Even household chores like dusting, sweeping, and mopping will keep you active and flexible.
If exercising lowers your gestational diabetes level, then you may not have to take medications at all.
Women with gestational diabetes are prone to develop Type 2 diabetes post pregnancy. So care is must after the baby is born. Prevention of type 2 diabetes post pregnancy is similar to that of during pregnancy; healthy diet, physical activity and losing weight.
Gestational diabetes in mother puts the baby at health risk too. There are chances of overweight children and type 2 diabetes when they grow older. The best way to prevent such occurrence is by
- Breast feeding
- Keeping your child physically active
- Nourishing him with a healthy diet and
- Creating awareness about diabetes, its prevention and treatment
Usually gestational diabetes goes away by itself after the baby is born. Doctor will do a blood test in between 6th and 12th week to ensure that the blood glucose levels are back to normal.
Even after your blood sugar level is back to normal post-delivery, you will be still at a risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Therefore, you should get glucose level tested every 3 years to be at the no-risk zone.