Over 8% of expectant moms are diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Having gestational diabetes dramatically increases the risks of health problems for both the mom-to-be and the developing baby, so preventing it is essential.
At Serrano OBGyn in San Antonio, Texas, Christopher V. Serrano, MD, offers state-of-the-art pregnancy care and support for women with gestational diabetes and other high-risk pregnancies. To mark National Diabetes Month, this post focuses on steps to reduce your risks of developing gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes: The basics
Gestational diabetes is similar to type 2 diabetes but happens during pregnancy. Usually, insulin produced by your pancreas helps your body use blood sugar (glucose) for energy while maintaining normal glucose levels in your blood. Diabetes happens when your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or doesn’t use insulin the way it’s supposed to.
In gestational diabetes, hormones released by your placenta can interfere with how your body uses insulin. This condition is called insulin resistance, significantly increasing your risk of developing gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is more common among women with these risk factors:
- Being overweight prior to pregnancy
- Gaining a lot of weight during pregnancy
- Having a close family member with type 2 diabetes
- Being older than 25
- Having had gestational diabetes previously
- Having given birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds
- Having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Gestational diabetes often happens during the third trimester, but if you have risk factors, early screening can help identify problems.
Preventing gestational diabetes
Fortunately, gestational diabetes can be prevented. Follow these tips:
Watch what you eat
A healthy diet while pregnant ensures your baby gets the proper nutrients for normal growth and development. Focus on plenty of nutrient-dense foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy.
Avoid sugary snacks, prepackaged or processed foods, and fried, greasy, or high-fat foods. Keep an eye on your portion size, too, and opt for smaller meals throughout the day instead of 2-3 big meals to help stabilize blood sugar levels.
Regular exercise reduces your risk of diabetes. Daily walking is a great way to exercise, lose extra weight, and reduce stress. Swimming and prenatal exercise classes are also good choices. Check with Dr. Serrano before beginning any new exercise routine.
Maintain a healthy weight
Weight challenges before or during pregnancy increase the risk of gestational diabetes. Ask Dr. Serrano about a healthy weight target for you as well as steps you can take to maintain an ideal weight throughout pregnancy.
Don’t skip your prenatal exams
Glucose testing is a regular part of prenatal health exams. These exams also allow Dr. Serrano to monitor other aspects of your health, including screening for diabetes risk factors. Regular prenatal exams allow our team to identify issues early so they can be treated promptly.
Manage your stress
Elevated stress can affect your physical and emotional health, leading to overeating. Regular exercise helps relieve stress. Also, consider incorporating stress-management techniques into your daily routine, like mindful breathing, yoga, meditation, or time spent doing a relaxing activity you enjoy.
Prioritize your healthy pregnancy
Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it also strains your body. If you’re at risk of gestational diabetes or want to learn other steps to prevent health problems for you and your developing baby, call 210-761-5308 or book an appointment online with Dr. Serrano and his team today.