Gestational diabetes: What do I need to know before I get pregnant?

Gestational diabetes: What do I need to know before I get pregnant?

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I'm planning a pregnancy. What should I know about gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is one of the most common pregnancy complications, affecting 5 to 10 percent of pregnancies in the United States. It's good to be aware of the condition and understand how to lower your risk of developing it.

Gestational diabetes is the form of diabetes that's first diagnosed during pregnancy. Like the other types, gestational diabetes causes blood sugar (glucose) to become too high.

Having gestational diabetes puts you and your baby at risk for a number of complications during your pregnancy and later on. For example, you're at higher risk of developing high blood pressure and preeclampsia if you have gestational diabetes. Because gestational diabetes can make your baby grow much larger than average, it can also cause problems for both of you during birth.

I had gestational diabetes in my last pregnancy. Will I get it again?

Not necessarily, but having gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy does increase the risk of having it again.

Between 30 and 60 percent of women with gestational diabetes develop it in later pregnancies – and the risk of recurrence increases with each pregnancy you have it. By a third pregnancy, the risk is highest.

Other factors that make it more likely to develop gestational diabetes include:

  • having a close relative who has diabetes
  • being overweight, especially if your body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher
  • having polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • having a condition that makes diabetes more likely, such as glucose intolerance
  • taking certain medications like glucocorticoids (for asthma or an autoimmune disease), beta-blockers (for hypertension or a rapid heart rate), or antipsychotic drugs (for mental health problems)
  • having had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
  • having had a big baby before (macrosomia)

Gestational diabetes is also more common among women from certain ethnic groups. Your risk is higher if you're African American, Native American, Asian American, Hispanic, or Pacific Islander.

I'm high risk for gestational diabetes. Should I see my healthcare provider before I get pregnant?

Yes. If you think you may be at risk of developing gestational diabetes, it's a great idea to talk to your healthcare provider before you conceive to make sure you don't already have diabetes and to find out how to lower your risk of getting it during pregnancy.

During preconception counseling, your provider can give you advice on:

  • Eating well. Eating mostly whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can help you control your blood sugar. Learn more about healthy eating when you have gestational diabetes.
  • Keeping your weight under control. If you're overweight or obese, losing weight before becoming pregnant lowers your risk of gestational diabetes. Staying at a healthy weight also makes you more likely to have a healthy pregnancy.
  • Exercise. Moderate exercise, such as walking briskly or swimming for half an hour (at least five times a week), can help keep your blood sugar under control. When combined with a healthy diet, exercise can also help you lose weight if you're overweight, or keep your weight within a healthy range.

Although there's no guarantee that you won't develop gestational diabetes, making these changes and following a healthy lifestyle lowers your risk and prepares your body for a healthy pregnancy.

Visit the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's website for more information and to find an MFM specialist near you.

Watch the video: What causes gestational diabetes? 3 things you need to know. (May 2022).

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