Eating well during pregnancy reduces the risk of a mom-to-be developing gestational diabetes. Up to 10% of all pregnant women get gestational diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). There are many risks associated with gestational diabetes, including the baby being premature, weighing in excess of 9 lb, and birth trauma. It’s not possible to completely prevent gestational diabetes, but there are things you can do to lower your chances of getting it.
Get more exercise
Studies have found that pregnant women are often put off exercising. One piece of research found that almost 40% of women were told not to exercise because it was dangerous to their unborn babies. This is not true as exercise plays a key role in a healthy pregnancy and can lower the risk of gestational diabetes. Official guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) state that pregnant women should aim to do 150 minutes of physical activity per week. But one study found that 38 minutes per day (266 minutes per week) reduced the risk of gestational diabetes.
Processed foods and foods high in sugar may increase the likelihood of gestational diabetes. Carbohydrates are also problematic as they raise the body’s blood sugar levels. The best thing to do is eat a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fiber. Fiber helps to balance out blood sugar levels, so it forms an important part of a pregnant woman’s diet. Eating healthily after giving birth is also crucial as this will help to prevent gestational diabetes in future pregnancies. Family and friends often give new parents thoughtful gifts, such as a cozy robe or care package. Others give takeout vouchers, ready-made meals, and meal delivery boxes. These are invaluable for sleep-deprived parents and breastfeeding moms that need an energy boost. Just make sure to check that these meal ideas are healthy and nutritious.
Eat more often
Most people eat three main meals per day. But when there’s a chance of developing gestational diabetes, women should make a change to their eating habits. This includes eating smaller meals, more frequently. Good advice to follow from the University of California San Francisco is to eat three small meals per day as well as two to three snacks. Eating large quantities of food in one go, raises blood sugars too high, making gestational diabetes more likely.
Pregnant women are used to taking dietary supplements, such as folic acid and calcium, during pregnancy. But there are some supplements that could decrease a woman’s chances of getting gestational diabetes, including:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
Look for supplements that contain myo-inositol as it is thought to increase the performance of insulin and lower the risk of gestational diabetes-related birth complications.
Gestational diabetes is a major health problem for many pregnant women. It’s not always possible to prevent the condition from appearing, but lots can be done to try to keep it at bay.