How do I reduce the risk of gestational diabetes during pregnancy number 2? I am over weight but not horribly. I would like to start trying for bubby number 2 in the next few months.
Our midwife Melissa says:
There are a few risk factors for gestational diabetes, but even with no risk factors, some 5% women will develop gestational diabetes. The general incidence of gestational diabetes is about 10%. Some of the risk factors are what we call modifiable – in other words we can do things to increase or decrease our risk; while other risks are not modifiable – in other words, there is nothing that we can do to change the risk.
There is one main modifiable risk for gestational diabetes, and that is our weight both before and during pregnancy. A measure that is often used is “BMI”. This stands for body mass index, and is a measure of our weight relative to our height, and takes into account that taller people generally weigh more than shorter people, without necessarily being overweight. Normal body mass index is between 18.5 and 25. Overweight is 25 – 30, and obese is over 30. Some 12% - 20% women with a BMI over 30 develop gestational diabetes.
The non-modifiable risks for gestational diabetes include:
1. A family history of diabetes in a first degree relative
2. A previous baby weighing more than 4.5Kg
3. Age over 30 (some say 35)
4. A history of unexplained miscarriages or stillbirths
5. Gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
6. Asian race
7. Poly-cystic ovarian syndrome
8. Multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets)
These are all things that we cannot do anything about.
As there are many risks factors for gestational diabetes that you simply cannot change, the best thing to do is to try to start pregnancy with a BMI within the healthy weight range. This is best achieved with a healthy eating plan that includes lots of fresh and cooked vegetables every day, fish every day, some chicken, meat, eggs, nuts, seeds and one or two pieces of fruit per day. Exercise is important too, and the best exercises include swimming and walking. Try to walk for 45-60 minutes a day, every day. Maintain this program during your pregnancy, and you will be doing all you can to prevent gestational diabetes.
This answer was written for Birth by midwife Melissa Maimann from Essential Birth Consulting.
Last revised: Thursday, 7 February 2013
This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.