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Preventing Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes occurs when your body has too much sugar in your blood and your body cannot produce enough insulin to keep up. When you are pregnant, there are hormones in your placenta that are released making your body less responsive to insulin. Your body therefore needs to make more to keep blood sugar levels from getting too high. Your baby does not have the ability to process high blood sugar levels yet. High blood sugar levels transmitted to baby can result in a larger baby, making labor and delivery difficult and potentially dangerous to the mother. Preventing gestational diabetes is an important way to ensure the health of your baby and promote a healthy labor and delivery.

Recent research reports that 18 out of 100 pregnant women are diagnosed with gestational diabetes. There are several risk factors that put you at a higher chance of getting gestational diabetes, including:

 Being overweight before pregnancy

 If you are Hispanic, African American, Native American, Asian American, or Pacific

Islander

 A family member has diabetes, either Type 1 or Type 2

 If you are 25 years or older

 You have previously had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy

 If you have had issues with abnormal blood sugar levels in the past

 

It is likely that if you have a family history of diabetes and fall into the particular race category, you may not be able to prevent gestational diabetes, but it is still important to follow the steps below in order to promote a healthy pregnancy for you and your baby.

Preventing Gestational Diabetes:

1. Think Fiber. Every 10 grams of fiber pregnant women consume actually reduces your chance of getting gestational diabetes by 26%. Try to stick with a high fiber, high protein, and a moderate fat diet.

2. Get Moving! Even just walking for 15-30 minutes a day has shown to prevent the onset of gestational diabetes. Walking, swimming, and yoga are the best low impact exercises for pregnant women. Exercise also helps you burn the extra glucose that your body may not have the ability to eliminate. At least four hours a week of physical activity helps lower your chance of gestational diabetes by 70%!

3. Cut Out Sugar. Sweets and carbohydrate rich foods cause your blood sugar to spike, which your body does not have the insulin to respond to, so keeping your blood sugar even allows your body to deal with the small amount of sugar that it is actually able to handle.

4. Gain a Healthy Amount of Weight. The rule of thumb is 25-35lbs, for women who already have a healthy body mass index (BMI), which is measured using your height and weight. You can check your BMI here: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm

If you are overweight prior to your pregnancy, work with your doctor on how much heathy weight to gain. For women in a healthy weight range, generally you should gain around 3-4lbs during the first trimester, 14lbs during the second trimester, and 10-12 pounds during the third trimester. Of course, this will depend on how many little ones you are carrying. For twins, the recommended weight gain is between 37-54lbs.

The most important thing to remember is to eat healthy and get regular exercise. Don’t make your body work too hard fighting high blood sugar, your body is already working hard to provide nutrients to your baby and help your baby grow. Keeping your blood sugar in check prevents you from having to deal with the consequences of receiving a gestational diabetes diagnosis.

 

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