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5 Ways To Prevent Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy. Here are 5 ways you can prevent Gestational Diabetes

Neda Hashmi
February 11, 2021

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes can cause health problems in both mother and baby. Managing your diabetes can help protect you and your baby. 

Women’s metabolism changes in pregnancy. This can cause blood sugar levels to increase temporarily. If certain levels are exceeded, the woman is considered to have gestational diabetes. Women with GDM are at an increased chance of developing 

  • High blood pressure or pre-eclampsia during pregnancy 
  • Having their labour induced
  • Giving birth by C-section
  • Experiencing perineal trauma 
  • Increased risk of having type 2 diabetes after pregnancy.

Risk factors include being 

  • Overweight and obesity.
  • A lack of physical activity.
  • Previous gestational diabetes or prediabetes.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • Diabetes in an immediate family member.
  • Previously delivering a baby weighing more than 4.1 kilograms.

What are the symptoms & causes?

Gestational diabetes often has no symptoms, or they may be mild, such as being thirstier than normal or having to urinate more often. Gestational diabetes is sometimes related to the hormonal changes of pregnancy that make your body less able to use insulin. Genes and extra weight may also play a role.

Your pancreas releases insulin, a hormone that helps you keep your blood sugar levels in control after you eat. Carbohydrates from your foods are broken down into glucose which is transported by the blood. This may cause your blood sugar levels to rise. Insulin released from the pancreas helps you regulate this rise.

During pregnancy, your placenta makes hormones that cause glucose to rise in your blood. Pancrease can send Insulin to handle this but sometimes your body can't make enough insulin or even stops using insulin. Your blood sugar levels rise & you get gestational diabetes.

Here are 5 ways you can prevent gestational diabetes

#1 Change your diet. 

Women are generally advised to eat a balanced diet during pregnancy. This means making sure you have a varied diet rather than eating a lot of the same type of food, so the baby gets all the nutrients he or she needs. Most women can simply trust their appetite and don’t need to follow a special diet.

The only women who benefit from dietary changes are those who are overweight or obese. They can lower their risk of gestational diabetes by changing their diet with the help of a professional dietitian or nutritionist. The dietary changes can reduce their blood sugar levels and help them put on less weight in pregnancy. In women who have a normal weight, dietary changes don't have a preventive effect. Consult our clinical experts to get a free diet plan here.

#2 Keep the Sugar and carbs in control 

Because carbohydrates increase your blood sugar levels, people are usually advised to cut down on carbohydrates (“carbs”) while making sure they still get enough fiber and generally eat a balanced diet otherwise. Other common advice includes eating three not-too-big main meals and two to three smaller meals per day.

The exact dietary changes to be made will depend on things like how much the woman weighs and how much exercise she gets. Getting special advice from a dietitian or nutritionist can help to avoid adverse effects. It's important to make sure that your body gets enough calories and certain nutrients in pregnancy. So it isn't a good idea to go on a reduced-calorie diet while pregnant.

#3 Monitor your weight gain during Pregnancy 

Women who gain a lot of weight in pregnancy have a higher risk of certain health problems and complications during childbirth. Putting on a lot of weight can be a sign of gestational diabetes. There are official recommendations concerning how much weight pregnant women should gain. This depends on how much they weighed beforehand.

For women who were underweight before pregnancy (BMI of less than 18.5): between 12.5 and 18 kilograms of weight gain during pregnancy.

For women who had a normal weight before pregnancy (BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9): between 11.5 and 16 kilograms of weight gain during pregnancy.

For women who were overweight before pregnancy (BMI of between 25 and 29.9): between 7 and 11.5 kilograms of weight gain during pregnancy.

For women who were obese before pregnancy (BMI greater than 30): between 5 and 9 kilograms of weight gain during pregnancy.

#4 Include Supplements during pregnancy 

Although it's true that all nutrients should be taken as natural sources. However during pregnancy, the need for each nutrient increases. Many times it's better to include some supplements of common deficiencies like iron, vitamin D, etc. 

Dietary supplements containing myo-inositol might reduce the risk of gestational diabetes. One possible explanation for this potential effect is that myo-inositol can make insulin work better. But it's not clear whether taking myo-inositol supplements can also reduce the risk of the possible consequences of gestational diabetes, such as complications during birth.

Studies have shown, maternal vitamin D deficiency, as early as the first trimester of pregnancy, is associated with an increased risk for gestational diabetes. But it's not clear whether taking vitamin D supplements has a preventive effect.

Certain dietary supplements, such as omega 3 fatty acids (fish oil), are sometimes claimed to help prevent gestational diabetes. There is a lack of research on the use of probiotics in this area.

#5 Physical activity as a routine

A recent study was conducted to find if gestational diabetes is less likely to develop in women who get more exercise from the start of pregnancy than it is in women who don't get much exercise. They found that gestational diabetes was indeed somewhat less common in women who exercised more – regardless of whether they were overweight or had a normal 

A combination of dietary changes and exercise programs. This approach was also found to help prevent gestational diabetes.

Doing at least 30 minutes of strenuous activity on about three to four days per week is sometimes enough to lower blood sugar levels. Suitable types of exercise include swimming, cycling, and brisk walking. Sports like martial arts, skiing, and soccer are too risky during pregnancy. Women who are at greater risk of preterm birth are usually advised to avoid sports altogether. It's best to talk with your doctor or gynecologist about which types of exercise would be suitable for you.

The bottom line

Reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 6 and 9 percent of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes.

If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, the right diet & lifestyle changes can help you control it & you can have a healthy pregnancy, labor, and delivery.

It is extremely important to take advice from your doctors & dietician if you are battling gestational diabetes. Your personal health coach can help you develop a meal plan so you can successfully lose weight while getting all of the essential nutrients that your baby needs and ultimately preventing any complications caused by gestational diabetes.

About the author
Neda Hashmi

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