Did you know, all women who become pregnant can be at risk of developing gestational diabetes? The most important factors to help prevent gestational diabetes are to be aware of the risks, have regular checkups with your doctor to check blood glucose levels and make sure that you have a healthy diet in combination with regular exercise.
What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is when high levels of blood glucose are produced, typically around the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy. Developing gestational diabetes during your pregnancy can increase your chances of developing type II diabetes after your pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes is developed from genetics or environmental factors such as poor diet and lack of exercise.
It can also be associated with health complications during the pregnancy and when it comes time for bub to enter the world. These complications can be a large baby, stillbirths, or bub developing type II diabetes.
There are two types of gestational diabetes, one that is developed during your pregnancy that can be controlled with diet alone, and the second that is developed during your pregnancy that is controlled with insulin injections. Gestational diabetes usually disappears after giving birth.
The National Diabetes fact sheet, 2011 states that between 2-10% of pregnancies develop gestational diabetes. The international multicenter study found that using the new criteria (fasting glucose ≥5.1 mmol/l) for testing that it is as high as 18% of pregnancies form gestational diabetes.
What are the risk factors associated with developing gestational diabetes?
- Being overweight before you fall pregnant or gaining excessive weight during a pregnancy
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Low levels of good cholesterol, and high levels of triglycerides
- A family history, or a history of gestational diabetes
- An unhealthy eating plan before and during pregnancy
Recommendations for diet during pregnancy by the Diabetes Australia site is as follows:
- High fibre foods such as strawberries, avocado, banana, carrots, beets, spinach, broccoli.
- Eat small amounts often (to not exceed a normal pregnancy weight gain)
- Eat a small amount of low glycemic index carbohydrates each meal such as basmati rice, sweet potato and corn, legumes and lentils, fruits and milk and yoghurt.
- Use healthy fats such as olive oil, polyunsaturated oils, avocados and unsalted nuts.
- Include two serves of protein each day (lean meats, fish, eggs, and cheese).
- Fruits such as strawberries, passion fruit, lemons, limes and all vegetables can be consumed, as they don’t have an effect on excessive weight gain and increase in blood glucose.
- Plenty of water
What should I avoid?
- Fast foods
- Sugary fruit juices and soft drinks
- Stay away from added sugars
- Limit sweet food and desserts
- Keep a daily food diary
- Starchy foods, Major, C et al, 1998 discovered that pregnant females on a restricted carbohydrate diet improved their glycemic control and were less likely to have birthing complications or a C-section.
It is important if you are at risk of developing gestational diabetes or if you have developed gestational diabetes to make an appointment with one of our expert nutritionists today. Or any accredited dietician or nutritionist close to you, to gain expert advice on an eating plan for mum and bub and to understand what foods, and the proportion of those foods for you to consume.
Diabetes Australia, 2015 sited 18/11/2018 https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/managing-gestational-diabetes
Major, C., Henry, J., Vecinal, M., Morgan, M., 1998. The effects of Carbohydrate Restriction in Patients with Diet-Controlled Gestational Diabetes. “Obstetrics & Gynecology” 91,4, 600-604.
National Diabetes fact sheet, 2011 sited 18/11/2018