Can You Prevent Gestational Diabetes?

Can You Prevent Gestational Diabetes?

Between 2% and 10% of pregnancies are affected by gestational diabetes each year in the United States. This condition can be serious and have complications for the pregnancy as well as for the future health of both mother and child. In other words, it’s a pregnancy complication that’s best avoided in the first place.

Since November is National Diabetes Month, Dr. Jack Tubbs and the team here at Associates in Obstetrics & Gynecology want to spend some time discussing gestational diabetes. While this obstetric condition can develop no matter what you do, the preventive steps we outline below are solid practices for any pregnancy.

Gestational diabetes basics

There are more than 37 million people who have diabetes in the US, but gestational diabetes occurs in previously undiagnosed women.

When a woman becomes pregnant, there are considerable hormonal and weight changes that take place that can lead to insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that delivers the glucose (sugar) in your blood to your body’s cells. When you have insulin resistance, your body doesn’t use insulin effectively, so you have higher-than-normal glucose levels in your blood.

Having high blood sugar levels during pregnancy can put you at higher risk for developing high blood pressure, as well as having a large baby that may require Cesarean section delivery. As concerning, half of women with gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes, and their child is also more vulnerable to diabetes later in life.

Can gestational diabetes be prevented?

The hormonal and weight changes in women during pregnancy naturally lead to slightly elevated blood sugar levels, but these usually come back down after pregnancy.

For those who develop gestational diabetes, it may be linked to one or more of these risk factors:

Of course, if you had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy, the odds are good that you will have the condition in subsequent pregnancies.

The reason why we’re first looking at risk factors first is because this is where prevention needs to start. For example, the best way to prevent gestational diabetes is to enter your pregnancy at a healthy weight and as someone who is physically active.

Attempting to lose weight during a pregnancy isn’t something we recommend, so it’s best to reverse this risk factor before becoming pregnant. That said, if you were inactive before pregnancy, but you want to stay healthy and avoid conditions like gestational diabetes, we do encourage you to move as much as you can during your pregnancy, as long as we’ve given you the OK.

Being active during your pregnancy is also an important prevention technique if you have other risk factors for gestational diabetes, such as having PCOS.

The bottom line is that for some women, gestational diabetes can develop despite your best efforts, but you can try to prevent the condition by instituting some healthy practices. After all, eating nutritious foods, steering away from processed foods and added sugars, and being physically active are smart practices for any healthy pregnancy.

If you’re concerned about gestational diabetes, we invite you to contact our office in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to schedule a consultation.

You Might Also Enjoy...

How Long Can You Keep an IUD In?

You’re looking at your options in birth control, and you like the idea of an intrauterine device (IUD). Not only is this approach hassle-free, it’s long-lasting, though how long depends on the IUD.
When Is Tubal Ligation a Good Choice?

When Is Tubal Ligation a Good Choice?

You’re looking for a way to put a permanent end to your ability to get pregnant, and you’re considering tubal ligation. Here are some pros and cons of this approach and when it’s a good option.
Pelvic Pain? It Might Be Endometriosis

Pelvic Pain? It Might Be Endometriosis

You’re experiencing more discomfort than usual around your periods or sex has gone from pleasurable to painful. These are potential signs of endometriosis, which affects 11% of women in their reproductive years.