Fortunately, gestational diabetes isn’t a permanent health problem. However, the condition is taken very seriously because it can lead to issues for both mom and baby if it is not properly treated.
Risk factors for developing the condition vary. For example, women aged 25 or older are already at a higher risk for gestational diabetes.
Other risk factors include: polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS); obesity; glucose intolerance; having diabetic blood relatives; certain medications for high blood pressure, heart rate, asthma, autoimmune diseases or mental health problems; a history of gestational diabetes; or if you are of Hispanic, African-American, Asian-American, Native American or Pacific Islander descent.
How to lower your risk of gestational diabetes
Preventing gestational diabetes is not a certainty, as some risk factors are related to heritage or an underlying health condition. That being said, there are steps women can take to help lower their risk and increase their awareness of its symptoms so it can be treated quickly and effectively.
One of the best ways to decrease the risk of gestational diabetes is by eating a balanced, healthy diet and by exercising, both prior to and throughout the pregnancy. Obesity is an important factor in gestational diabetes, so efforts to lower body mass index (BMI) prior to becoming pregnant are advisable. It’s also important to limit sugar intake — and especially during pregnancy — because sugar impacts blood glucose levels.
Post-delivery, even though gestational diabetes is not permanent, it does increase the risk for developing type 2 diabetes in the future. The same healthy lifestyle habits practiced prior to and during pregnancy should continue after giving birth, not just for overall health, but as a preventative long-term measure against developing type 2 diabetes.
For anyone considering pregnancy, we invite you to learn about why preconception counseling works. PGOMG also has a variety of blog posts dedicated to a healthy pregnancy: