Gestational Diabetes in Pregnancy

Gestational Diabetes in Pregnancy? Think about Preventing Type 2 Diabetes.

Hasina Visram, MD MSc MPH FRCPC 

Rishma Ladha, RN MScN CDE

West Ottawa Specialty Care

DID YOU KNOW

Thirty percent of women who have had gestational diabetes during pregnancy will develop type 2 diabetes within 15 years. This risk of diabetes can be even higher if you have any of the following risk factors:

  • A family history of diabetes
  • Are member of a high diabetes risk ethnic group (Aboriginal, Hispanic, South Asian, Asian, or African descent)
  • Carry extra weight, especially around the belly.

In addition, diabetes in pregnancy affects your baby's risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life due to a higher exposure of glucose (sugar) during pregnancy. Taking steps to promote a healthy lifestyle for you and your family can benefit everyone! 

You can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes after having gestational diabetes and help promote better health for your family by considering any or all the following!  

5 Tips to Keep YOU and YOUR FAMILY Healthy

1.      Consider Breastfeeding

Consider breastfeeding as much as you can for at least first 6 months after delivery. This can lower your and your child's risk of obesity and diabetes later in life! Consider taking a breastfeeding class before baby arrives. 

2.      Get Moving

Find an activity that gets you moving, such as walking, dancing, gardening, swimming, or taking the stairs. Talk with your health care provider to choose an activity that's best for you. Remember, you just had a baby... so take it slow. Consider starting with 10 minutes of low intensity activity every day and slowly increase this to 30 minutes a day. If you had a caesarian section, discuss appropriate activities with your health care provider. Have fun and monitor your progress! Include your whole family to encourage healthy behaviours for everyone! 

3.      Make Healthy Food Choices

Plan your meals using the Canadian food guide. Prepare meals at home as a family and be sure to include: healthy fats, whole grains, protein, fruits and vegetables. Limit or stop beverages high in sugar content, such as regular soft drinks and energy drinks. Make water your favorite drink of choice! 

4.      Manage your Weight

Take simple steps and aim for reachable goals. Give your body time and try to have realistic expectations. Research confirms that 5-10% weight loss after pregnancy helps the body to effectively use and store glucose (sugar). This can help delay or prevent the onset of diabetes. Remember that breastfeeding should be well established before implementing weight loss strategies.

5.      Make Sure You Get Screened for Diabetes

Diabetes does not always have symptoms. Finding it and managing it early can significantly improve your future health. Talk to your health care provider about performing ongoing diabetes testing (SCREENING) starting within 6 months after delivery. This early testing will check that your diabetes did not continue after delivery and help determine your future risk of type 2 diabetes.

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