While pregnancy can be one of the most amazing and heartwarming moments in a mother's life, complications that occur down the road can make the journey more stressful and painstaking. For example, women who develop gestational diabetes while carrying have to pay closer attention to their lifestyle habits to ensure their own health and the well-being of their newborn.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2-10 percent of women in the U.S. develop diabetes during their pregnancy. Gestational diabetes occurs when women develop high blood glucose levels while carrying, and can't keep them down on their own. While the cause is unknown, it is said that an imbalance of hormones results in insulin resistance, leading to hyperglycemia.
Symptoms and Complications
According to the American Pregnancy Association, some of the common signs and symptoms that you have gestational diabetes include unusual thirst, frequent urination, fatigue, nausea, blurred vision and frequent infections of the skin, bladder or vagina. By the 24- to 28-week mark of your pregnancy, you'll take a glucose test which tests the sugar in your urine or blood to reveal whether you have gestational diabetes.
If your test is positive, your doctor will discuss some of the complications that may occur after you give birth. Those include:
- Developing Type 2 diabetes. Nearly 50 percent of women with gestational diabetes will develop Type 2 later in life.
- Large birth weight. Your baby is more likely to be 9 pounds or more at birth, which may make your delivery more complicated.
- Premature birth. Your newborn may be born early, which can cause health concerns.
Understanding how to cope with gestational diabetes, or preventing it all around, is key for mothers-to-be.
Preventing Gestational Diabetes
While the cause of gestational diabetes is unknown, there are ways for newly pregnant women to reduce their chance of developing this condition. Consider the following tips:
1. Lose Weight Before Pregnancy
Did you know you're at greater risk for developing gestational diabetes if you're overweight before becoming pregnant? If you plan on starting a family in the near future, try getting down to a healthy weight. This is a simple way to reduce complications during pregnancy and after you give birth.
2. Remain Active While Carrying
Many women assume that since they're carrying a baby, they don't have to continue following a fitness regimen. This is false! Remaining physically active doesn't only keep your body healthy and in shape – while reducing your risk for developing gestational diabetes – but it also contributes to the wellbeing of the baby. Strenuous exercise might be too difficult during pregnancy, but that doesn't mean you have to give up working out all together. There are plenty of moderate options you can continue practicing up until the nine-month mark. Yoga, swimming, bike riding and walking are a few of the physical activities that pregnant women find helpful and comfortable while carrying. Just aim for 30 minutes of exercise every day.
3. Follow a Plant-based Diet
There's another myth that comes with pregnancy: Being able to eat whatever you want, whenever you want. This simply isn't the case. Yes, you should be gaining weight to provide nutrients for your growing baby, but it should come from healthy foods, not empty calories.
Instead of stuffing your face with saturated fats and refined sugars that can lead to gestational diabetes, try a plant-based eating plan. The Hallelujah Diet is comprised of raw fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and whole grains that are perfectly capable of providing the vitamins and nutrients you and your child need to thrive.
For more information on eating well during your pregnancy, read Olin Idol's book "Pregnancy, Children and the Hallelujah Diet."