Moms & Gestational Diabetes: What You Need to Know
March 24th, 2014
by Joanne Gallivan, M.S., R.D.
Director, National Diabetes Education Program
If you are pregnant or a new mom – congratulations! This is a very exciting time, and a time to focus on your health. If you are pregnant and have gestational diabetes, or if you had diabetes during your pregnancy, you have a greater chance of getting type 2 diabetes later in life. The National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) can help you find out what you need to know to manage gestational diabetes or prevent type 2 diabetes.
What if I have gestational diabetes right now?
Diabetes means that your blood sugar, also called blood glucose, is too high. Gestational diabetes (GDM), is a type of diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy. Because too much sugar in your blood is not good for you or your baby, you should take action right away to manage your gestational diabetes. Treating gestational diabetes means working with your doctor to learn how to manage your blood sugar by eating healthy, being physically active, and taking insulin shots, if needed.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks like soda or juice.
- Eat three small to moderate sized meals and one or more snacks each day.
- Meet with a registered dietitian or ask your doctor for a meal plan.
- Talk to your doctor about being more active. If you are able, try to be active for 30 minutes most days of the week. Walking, swimming, or dancing are good choices.
- You can find more information about managing gestational diabetes from the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse’s (NDIC): What I need to know about Gestational Diabetes.
Having gestational diabetes raises your chances of having high blood pressure during pregnancy, having a large baby, and needing a cesarean section at delivery. Talk to your doctor about ways to keep you and your baby healthy.
What if I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant?
About 7 to 18 percent of women have gestational diabetes during their pregnancy. If you were one of them, there are modest but important steps you and your family can take to lower your chances of developing type 2 diabetes in the future:
- Reach and stay at a healthy weight by being physically active for 30 minutes most days of the week and following a healthy eating plan. Try to reach your prepregnancy weight 6 to 12 months after your baby is born.
- Ask your doctor if you should take the diabetes medicine metformin to lower your chances of having type 2 diabetes.
- Be sure to tell your child’s doctor that you had gestational diabetes. A child born from a mom who had gestational diabetes may have a greater chance of being obese and developing type 2 diabetes.
- You can find more information on what you need to know if you had gestational diabetes from our tip sheet, Did You Have Gestational Diabetes When You Were Pregnant? What You Need to Know.
Should I be tested for diabetes?
If you had gestational diabetes, you should be tested for diabetes 6 to 12 weeks after your baby is born. If your test results show that your blood sugar is higher than normal, but not high enough to be diabetes, you should be tested for diabetes every year. If your test result is normal, you should get tested for diabetes again in 3 years.
Find out your risk.
Today is Diabetes Alert Day, a day focused on raising awareness about the seriousness of diabetes and knowing what increases your chances of developing diabetes. Many people go for years without knowing they have diabetes until they develop one of the health problems caused by diabetes, such as heart disease, stroke, or vision problems.
For Diabetes Alert Day, the NDEP wants women with a history of gestational diabetes to know that they have a greater chance of getting diabetes later in life. Your child may also have a greater chance of being obese and getting type 2 diabetes later in life. The good news is there are small steps you can take to delay or prevent this disease and live a long, healthy life.
To learn more information about your risk and the steps you can take to keep your family healthy this Diabetes Alert Day, take the Diabetes Risk Test and visit our website at YourDiabetesInfo.org/AlertDay2014.
Wishing you and your baby health and happiness!