Make Changes Now To Prevent Gestational Diabetes
In the U.S 10% of the women who become pregnant will develop gestational diabetes, a condition when blood glucose levels are elevated because of insufficient insulin production or there is insulin resistance. After the baby is delivered the glucose levels return to normal but approximately 50% will develop diabetes in the future. Recent research indicates that a woman who has had gestational diabetes can lower her risk for developing diabetes later in life by acquiring and maintaining five lifestyle habits.
If a woman has these five lifestyle habits, she will lower her risk by 92% of developing diabetes after gestational diabetes. One healthy habit will reduce the risk of diabetes, but the more healthy habits the lower her risk. The five habits include:
- Healthy weight
- Healthy food choices
- Regular activity
- Moderate alcohol
- No smoking
Data collected from several studies show that a woman with a history of gestational diabetes is at risk for chronic disease down the road of life. It is a reminder that self-care is important after gestational diabetes during pregnancy: After experiencing gestational diabetes, these are the chronic disease health risks later in life:
- 72% risk for cardiovascular disease
- 40% risk for cerebrovascular disease
These are the blood glucose goals during gestational diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association:
- Before meal: 95 mg/dl or less
- 1 hour after meal: 140 mg/dl or less
- 2 hours after meal: 120 mg/dl or less
Having gestational diabetes puts a woman at risk for developing high blood pressure during that pregnancy, and she may have a larger baby requiring a cesarean section. Most women are tested for gestational diabetes about the 24th week of pregnancy.
It is best for mother and baby to diagnosis gestational diabetes early and to treat immediately. This can mean
- frequent glucose checks throughout the day.
- eating meals with nourishing foods in moderate amounts at regular times.
- being active with regular exercise so that the body does not require as much insulin.
- possibly insulin injections to reach desired glucose levels.
Reducing the risk of developing gestational diabetes means engaging in those same lifestyle habits that reduce a diabetes diagnosis after gestational diabetes: healthful food choices, reaching and maintaining a healthy weight and physical activity, moderate alcohol and of course, no smoking.