Gestational Diabetes and Pregnancy
Gestational Diabetes and Pregnancy
So what exactly is gestational diabetes?
During pregnancy our bodies undergo many physiological and metabolic changes. In a normal pregnancy, our bodies naturally become more insulin resistant to ensure adequate glucose for fetal development. This means that our cells are less responsive to the action of insulin, the hormone that acts as a pathway for glucose to enter cells from the blood stream and vice versa.
During pregnancy, the pancreas responds to the increasing insulin resistance by secreting more insulin into our blood stream in order to regulate blood sugar levels. Unfortunately sometimes as a reult of the high demands our bodies are put under when pregnant, the body is unable to cope with the extra demand for insulin production. This makes it difficult to use glucose properly for energy, so the glucose remains in the blood and the levels rise, leading to gestational diabetes.
Women with gestational diabetes generally don’t have diabetes before their pregnancy, and after giving birth it usually goes away. Gestational diabetes is usually diagnosed through a blood test at 24–28 weeks into pregnancy.
Who is at Risk from developing gestational diabetes?
There are some factors that are unfortunately out of our control when it comes to how likely we are to develop gestational diabetes. You may be at increased risk if you:
- Have had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
- Have a family history of diabetes (mum, dad, sister, brother)
- Suffer with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Are from a South Asian, Black or African Caribbean or Middle Eastern background.
The other major risk factor associated with gestational diabetes however is something that can be controlled. Pre-preganancy weight, inparticular if you are over weight or obese, and the degree of excess weight gained during pregnancy play a major role in the development of gestational diabetes.
Women with excess weight are twice as likely to develop GD as women with normal weight. The risk becomes 3.5 times higher if obesity is present, and 8.5 times higher in the case of morbid obesity compared to women with normal weight
Gestational diabetes can lead to babies growing larger than normal, which can cause many complications at birth.
So what can you do to reduce this risk
1: GET ACTIVE
There are lots of studies that suggest that being physically active before and during pregnancy can significantly reduce the risk of developing gestational diabetes. Training and exercise will help you to lose body fat, gain lean muscle and improve your overall health, avoiding any excess unwanted weight gain that could lead you to become over weight.
2: EAT WELL
Make sure that you eat a balanced diet of good quality wholesome foods.
- Eat the colours of the rainbow, getting in all those mircro nutrients
- Make sure you eat a portion of protein at every meal (fish, meat, eggs, lentils, chickpeas etc)
- Try and keep your carbohydrates to slow sources that will be broken down by the body slowly and therefore will not cause huge spikes in your blood glucose levels. Foods such as sweet potato, brown rice, butternut squash, oats.
- Avoid eating too much excess sugar and processed foods. Thats not to say that you cant treat yourself every now and then as we are all human but on the whole try not to binge out on sugary foods.
- Dont Over indulge – ‘I am eating for two’, I need to eat more, I need to feed my baby’ This is an absolute myth. Energy needs do not change in the first 6 nonths of pregnancy (NICE – National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) and it is suggested that women only require around 200 extra calories per day in the last trimester of pregnancy – this is the equivilent to a small handful of nuts.
If you would like to find out more about how to train and eat well safely whilst pregnant, drop us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org