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Are you at risk of getting gestational diabetes?

Below are some of the things you need to keep track  if you are getting ready to get pregnant.

·         Being overweight - (having a BMI of 30 or more) going into pregnancy is one of the most common risk factors for gestational diabetes, because the extra weight affects insulin's ability to properly keep blood sugar levels in check.

·         Higher level of abdominal fat - Recent research published in the American Diabetes Association's journal, Diabetes Care, found that women who had higher levels of abdominal fat in the first trimester of pregnancy may be more likely to be diagnosed with gestational diabetes later in pregnancy.

·         Older Moms - Doctors have noted that women over the age of 35 have a significantly higher risk of developing GDM.

·         Have a family history - If diabetes runs in the family, you may be more at risk of GDM. Women who are African-American, Hispanic, Asian or Native American are also statistically more likely to receive a GDM diagnosis.

·         Have a personal history of GDM - If you had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy, research suggests you're more likely to have it again in a subsequent pregnancy.

·         Received a pre-diabetes diagnosis - If your blood sugar levels are elevated slightly before pregnancy, you may be at higher risk of GDM.

·         Have been put on bed rest - Some research has shown that since you’re inactive on bed rest, you’re more likely to put on more pregnancy weight and therefore more likely to develop GDM.

How to avoid gestational diabetes?

If your only risk factors for gestational diabetes are a family history of the disease and/or advanced maternal age, there may be nothing more you can do to prevent your chances of developing the condition. But if you're overweight, don't eat a well-balanced diet or don't routinely exercise, starting a few healthy habits can make a big difference. And with enough repetition, they'll eventually require less conscious effort to maintain. The following steps can have a big impact on reducing your risk of developing both gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes, both before you conceive and during your pregnancy:

·         Get your doctors advise always and get checked for blood sugar levels every now and then. Always discuss and share your thoughts with your doctor or the midwife.

·         Stay active. Working out under the guidance of your practitioner — even starting with just a 15 minute walk after lunch and dinner — allows your body to burn glucose even without the insulin your body should normally produce. It’s a great way to keep your blood sugars in check, and you’ll probably love the way you feel once you get motivated to move.

·         Eat a healthy diet. Making changes to your diet now not only protects you and your baby during pregnancy, it also helps you to develop better eating habits for life. Consume a variety of fruits and vegetables, aim to limit your fat intake to 30 percent of your total daily calories, and try to avoid sugary, processed foods. Think high-fiber, low-fat options (whole grains, low-fat dairy, meat, legumes and fish), and watch your portions. Check out for more information on how much you should aim to eat from each food group and what constitutes a portion. While it takes a bit of work at first, it quickly becomes your habitual — and you’ll soon be an expert on what to eat (and what to avoid).

·         Keep an eye on the scale. With the help of your practitioner, try to maintain a normal weight and BMI: That means aim to gain the right amount of weight during pregnancy and lose the extra pounds after.

Author: Dr Chaminda Kandauda

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