Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy (gestation). Like other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes affects how your cells use sugar (glucose) — your body’s main fuel. Gestational diabetes causes high blood sugar that can affect your pregnancy and your baby’s health.
Expectant moms can help control gestational diabetes by eating healthy foods, exercising and, if necessary, using medication. Taking good care of yourself can ensure a healthy pregnancy for you and a healthy start for your baby.
In gestational diabetes, blood sugar usually returns to normal soon after delivery. But if you’ve had gestational diabetes, you’re at risk for future type 2 diabetes. You’ll continue working with your health care team to monitor and manage your blood sugar.
There are no guarantees when it comes to preventing gestational diabetes — but the more healthy habits you can adopt before pregnancy, the better. If you’ve had gestational diabetes, these healthy choices may also reduce your risk of having it again in future pregnancies or developing type 2 diabetes down the road.
1. Eat healthy foods. Choose foods high in fiber and low in fat and calories. Focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Strive for variety to help you achieve your goals without compromising taste or nutrition.
2. Keep active. Exercising before and during pregnancy can help protect you against developing gestational diabetes. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days of your week. Take a brisk daily walk. Ride your bike. Swim laps. If you can’t fit a single 30-minute workout into your busy day, several shorter sessions can do just as much good. Park in the distant lot when you run errands. Get off the bus one stop before you reach your destination. Every step you take increases your chances of staying healthy.
3. Lose excess pounds before pregnancy. Doctors don’t recommend weight loss during pregnancy — your body is already working overtime to support your baby’s development. But if you’re planning to get pregnant, losing extra weight beforehand may help you have a healthier pregnancy. Focus on permanent changes to your eating habits. Motivate yourself by remembering the long-term benefits of losing weight, such as a healthier heart, more energy and improved self-esteem.