Pregnancy is a life-transforming phase for a woman and any obstacle could add to the stress associated with the journey of motherhood. Many women over 25, with the family history of diabetes, with obesity or inactive lifestyle are at risk of gestational diabetes. In this condition, due to hormones produced by placenta, body isn’t able to use insulin effectively. However, all the symptoms of this type of diabetes disappear after the delivery. Women who develop gestational diabetes are at risk of type 2 diabetes later in life. But can this condition be avoided? Staying active, losing weight before conceiving and consuming a healthy diet can reduce the chances of gestational diabetes, however, it cannot be entirely prevented because of the genetic component. (Also read: Gestational diabetes diet: Foods to control diabetes in pregnant women)
“For expecting mothers, there are several things to consider in order to lower the chance of developing gestational diabetes. While gestational diabetes can not be entirely prevented because of the genetic component, there are a range of things that can be done to reduce the risk of developing the condition,” says Dr. R.M Anjana – Managing Director and Consultant, Diabetologist – Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre in an interview with HT Digital. Dr Anjana also talks about the lifestyle changes an expecting mother must adopt to prevent gestational diabetes risk.
Maintain a healthy weight
“There are some lifestyle aspects, with diet to begin with. I want to talk about weight first before I talk about diet. Gaining weight during a woman’s first two trimesters of pregnancy may or may not have a direct effect on developing gestational diabetes.This is the type of gestational diabetes that typically appears between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. Therefore, the main thing a woman can do to lower her chance of developing gestational diabetes is to maintain a healthy weight and avoid gaining too much weight,” says Dr Anjana.
“However, one cannot rule out risk of gestational diabetes in early trimesters which is known as early gestational diabetes and one needs to consider pre-pregnancy weight for this. If a woman is considering getting pregnant and has risk factors like obesity, preconception counseling may be necessary. Losing weight even before becoming pregnant is necessary,” the expert adds.
The amount of weight a woman accumulates during pregnancy is referred to as gestational weight gain, and it is dependent on her BMI. So while one needs calories and nutrition during pregnancy, extra fat and sugar can be avoided.
“Cravings are common at this point, therefore, limiting your intake of processed meals will be beneficial. Try to limit your diet to home-cooked meals. Therefore, eating fruits and vegetables will provide a balance of carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Intake of fat is also acceptable if a person is not very obese. However, maintaining a healthy diet throughout the pregnancy should also be a top priority,” says Dr Anjana.
Walking and other pelvic floor exercises
“I cannot emphasize enough the value of exercise and physical activity. It is suggested that the woman should rest during the first trimester. Walking is encouraged throughout pregnancy after that point, though. To the extent possible, the woman must stroll. It is required to walk for about an hour and perform further pelvic floor exercises. These are prevention of gestational diabetes,” says the expert.
“As our grandparents used to advise us, it’s also crucial to remain joyful while pregnant. Preventing early-trimester stress is also helpful in preventing gestational diabetes. Working and engaging in daily activities are beneficial, but stress should be avoided,” says Dr Anjana.
Other essential elements of pregnancy include doing pranayama, attempting to be cheerful, reducing stress, and obtaining as much sleep as possible. Because sleeping with a newborn in your arms after giving birth is not an unlikely scenario. It’s crucial to stay hydrated and drink enough water throughout the summer season, concludes Dr Anjana.