If you have a personal history of gestational diabetes (GD) in your first pregnancy – you’re also likely to develop the same condition in the second pregnancy. What you should do to lower your risk? Can it be prevented in your next pregnancy?
In essence, the more risk factors of gestational diabetes you have, the more likely to have this metabolic health condition.
Are there any steps you can do to help prevent the occurrence of GD? Yes – there are several ways to help reduce your risk and prevent the condition.
But you need also to clearly understand that there is no way that can guarantee you will not develop the condition during pregnancy.
While some risk factors of the condition are unchangeable, there are plenty of options to reduce the risk.
The following are some unchangeable risk factors [reference]:
- Having a family member (first relative – such as parent, brother, & sister) who has had diabetes (either type 1 or type 2 diabetes).
- If you have had GD in your first pregnancy, you tend to have the same condition in your next pregnancy. See also the chance of GD in second pregnancy in here!
- Previously delivered a baby with overweight (more than 9 pounds).
- Belong to a high-risk ethnic. Statistics show that the condition is more common in women of Melanesian, South Asian, Polynesian, native-Australian, African-Caribbean, Middle Eastern, Hispanic, and Native American
And for changeable risk factors include:
- Overweight, if your BMI is higher than 30 before pregnancy – according to the UK Global Diabetes Community.
- Poor diet, particularly diet high in sugar and low in fiber.
- Lack of physical activity, if you’re a physically inactive (sedentary) individual.
These risk factors estimate the chance of developing GD, but they are not used to conclude whether or not you definitely will develop the condition!
First off, if you are still trying to get pregnant, it is much better to make some appointments with your doctor for best advice.
Since the chance of GD to reoccur in the next pregnancy is likely to affect women with a personal history of GD, your doctor may suggest a few tests (e.g. oral glucose tolerance test) to analyze your insulin respond. Insulin is a kind of hormone made by beta cells of the pancreas. It is very important in regulating the level of glucose in the bloodstream.
If your insulin respond is lower than normal, you need to regularly monitor your blood sugar before conceiving. If your blood sugar is pretty high, your doctor usually asks you to lower it first, keep it as close to normal as possible before and during pregnancy.
Pregnant women should take a screening test for gestational diabetes. In general, those without risk factors are recommended to take the test between 24-28 weeks of pregnancy (this period is when hormones produced by placenta will be strong enough to affect the action of insulin).
Home remedies can be a part of primary strategies to prevent gestational diabetes in second pregnancy. In general, these include:
As noted before, being overweight (over 30 of BMI ‘body mass index’) is one of the risk factors for gestational diabetes. In other words, your chance of developing the condition in your next pregnancy increases if you are overweight before pregnancy.
Furthermore, being overweight may also affect your fertility, making it harder to get your conception with your partner. So losing your excess pounds of weight before your next pregnancy is a good start.
But once you conceive, your doctor usually doesn’t recommend any weight loss program! Losing weight during pregnancy can be potential to cause nutrient deficiency problems, which is bad for your pregnancy & too risky for the growth of your baby.
In addition, don’t choose instant result in losing the excessive pounds of your weight. Avoid strenuous exercise or extreme weight loss diet!
It’s much better to keep focus on changes that can provide a gradual weight loss for permanent result, such as doing regular exercise, eating right and in well-balanced diet, getting plenty of sleep a day, managing your stress, etc.
Exercise is a good way to effectively reduce the risk. This is particularly true if you are a large woman. According to a research (Dye — in 1997), sticking with regular exercise can help reduce the chance of gestational diabetes.
Regular exercise improves and maintains your insulin sensitivity, which is a good thing to help control your blood sugar.
Exercise is also recommended to improve your overall health. It improves your blood pressure and blood lipids. It can help manage your stress, it’s a natural stress reliever.
The health benefits from exercise can be modestly or even dramatically! In pregnant women diagnosed with gestational diabetes, regular exercise also can help them to reduce the quantity of using insulin replacement.
However always remember that you need to do your exercise regularly to gain the health benefits most, including for the most significant result in improving your insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control!
Consistency matters, too! According to one study, the improvement of insulin sensitivity related with physical conditioning will be rapidly lost when you discontinue your regular exercise.
You may not need to exercise every day, especially if you are a busy individual. But you should do it most days of the week. Going more than 2-3 days without exercise should be avoided, this may lose the benefits of your exercise in improving your blood sugar control!
And you don’t need to go with high-intensity workouts. Try with walking 20-30 minutes a day, for example. Prenatal yoga, water aerobics, or swimming also can be great choices to keep active. Again, the key is sticking with your exercise at regular times.
This is a simple advice you can hear from everyone, but it involves a wide range of strategies.
Eating right with appropriate nutrients is not only helpful to maintain your healthy weight – but also can help improve your insulin respond, prepare your body at best condition for your healthy pregnancy, and of course can promote good health for your overall body.
In general, foods low in fats & simple carbs and high in fiber (such as whole grains, vegetables, and fresh fruits) should be prioritized in your menu. Here are a few frequently asked questions regarding to diet and gestational diabetes prevention!
As mentioned before, foods low in fats are often recommended to prevent insulin resistance. But this doesn’t mean you need to go with an extremely low-fat diet!
Although fat is commonly considered unhealthy, your body still needs some fats (particularly for unsaturated fats, healthy ones). Fats in appropriate amount is good for your blood sugar control because this can help slow down your blood sugar to rise.
Therefore, eating fat in moderation is much more recommended – and make sure most of your fat intake is unsaturated fats (such as olives, avocados, nuts, seeds, fish ‘like salmon & tuna’, soybean, etc)!
Eating the right amount of carbohydrate is very crucial to maintain your blood sugar. And when it comes to reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, it’s much better to stick with a moderate-carb diet instead of low-carb diet.
You can find a specific calculation of how many carbohydrates you need a day. But sometimes, remembering the specific number of carbohydrate counting you have to follow could be very bothersome.
You are the best one who knows the exactly amount of carbs your body needs. Just listen your body, eat carbohydrate-foods that meets to your body needs — don’t eat too much, higher than your body needs!
Another idea, try with eating small meals throughout the day – this idea can help ease your morning sickness symptoms during pregnancy and make your insulin work more regularly.
Additionally, choose complex carbohydrates for a steady energy instead of simple carbs (they are faster to digest, more likely to cause a sudden impact on your blood sugar level)! This doesn’t mean you need to totally avoid simple carbohydrates. You can still eat some, but it’s much better to get your most carbohydrate intake a day from complex carbs!
Juices of fruits are yummy and great in taste, but keep in moderation! If you consume them more than one cup a day, it may give a sudden increase to your blood glucose. What’s more?