Gestational Diabetes and Pregnancy – How to Reduce Your Risk

Gestational diabetes during pregnancy is scary, but you can learn how to reduce your risk! I had gestational diabetes in my third pregnancy; my tips can help you prevent diabetes and avoid experiencing what I went through.

One way to prevent gestational diabetes when you’re pregnant is to watch what you eat…

“Foods high in bad fats, sugar and chemicals are directly linked to many negative emotions, whereas whole, natural foods rich in nutrients – foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes – contribute to greater energy and positive emotions.” – Marilu Henner.

Once you decide to follow a nutritious diet for the well-being of your baby and yourself, it gets easier. You’ll have more energy because you are eating better. You will get compliments on your skin, hair, and nails. You will be much less prone to mood swings.

Here’s my experience with diabetes when I was pregnant, plus tips for preventing gestational diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes and My Pregnancy

During my third pregnancy I was shocked when my doctor told me I had gestational diabetes. There was no history of diabetes in the family, I had never been overweight, I had always practiced good nutrition, and I was always fit. In retrospect, I have to admit that every time I found out I was pregnant I gave myself leeway to eat whatever I wanted. Although I lost the weight later, I gained 40 pounds with each of my first two daughters.

After being diagnosed with gestational diabetes, I followed the doctor’s dietary regimen for the last trimester and had a healthy 9 lb. 13 oz. baby boy with shoulder dystocia (his shoulder got stuck and the doctor had to manually pull it out). While the memory of childbirth pains with my girls faded within months, I did not forget that pain. I was afraid to get pregnant again and have an even bigger baby – which my doctor said was inevitable.

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Preventing Diabetes During Pregnancy

I was told that most women who have gestational diabetes with one pregnancy will have it in future pregnancies. Four years later, we conceived another child. I was determined to do all I could to prevent gestational diabetes. I did a great deal of research and followed these tips for reducing the risk of diabetes during pregnancy.

I passed the early glucose tolerance test with flying colors, gained the recommended 30 pounds, and gave birth to a healthy, 8 pound baby girl!

Start off your pregnancy at a healthy weight

If this is not your first pregnancy, try to get to your pre-pregnancy weight before conceiving again. Follow a daily exercise routine that includes muscle-building exercises. Muscle will help you to metabolize glucose while you are pregnant, which will help reduce the risk of diabetes.

A woman who has had gestational diabetes is at a higher risk of developing Type II Diabetes later in life.* She can reduce this risk by controlling her weight. The best thing you can do for yourself, whether or not you plan to conceive a baby again, is to keep yourself fit and follow good nutrition to reduce the likelihood that this will happen to you.

Watch your refined carbohydrate intake

From day one of your pregnancy, act as if your doctor had already told you to watch your sugars. This may be difficult at first but remember you are doing this for yourself and your baby – because gestational diabetes during pregnancy is not fun! It will become easier to say no to slices of cake at parties as your pregnancy grows and people compliment you on how healthy you look. If people ask you why you won’t eat dessert, simply say you are following a prescribed pregnancy diet.

Eat foods that contain magnesium and zinc

Magnesium and zinc are both important for glucose control, and deficiencies in these nutrients have been correlated with instances of gestational diabetes during pregnancy.* Many breakfast cereals have added magnesium and zinc.  Check your prenatal vitamin to make sure these are included.

Get daily exercise – walking is good for pregnant women

Daily exercise is important for you to keep in good shape and to metabolize glucose. The best form of walking for pregnant women is walking. If you have followed an exercise routine up to the date of conception, it is usually okay to continue on with it; check with your doctor.

If you have any thoughts or questions about gestational diabetes during pregnancy, please comment below…

To learn about healthy eating when you’re pregnant – whether or not you’re worried about gestational diabetes – read Eating for Pregnancy: The Essential Nutrition Guide and Cookbook for Today’s Mothers-to-Be.

And if you’re not pregnant yet but are trying to get pregnant, read 10 Ways to Maximize Your Chances of Conceiving a Baby.

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller is a Long Island write-at-home mother to four children, all born healthy after high-risk pregnancies. She blogs at The Divine Gift of Motherhood and writes the column The Long Island Motherhood Examiner .

*Source: Catalano, P.M., et al. “Gestational Diabetes and Insulin Resistance: Role in Short- and Long- Term Implications for Mother and Fetus.” Journal of Nutrition, Volume 133: pp. 1674-1683. May, 2003.

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