Did You Have Gestational Diabetes When You Were Pregnant?

There’s an important fact that women should know: If you had gestational diabetes when you were pregnant, you have a greater chance of getting type 2 diabetes later in life. Your child may also have a greater chance of being obese and getting type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which your body does not make or use insulin well and causes your blood sugar to get too high. The good news is there are many things you can do to take care of yourself and your child to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes and stay healthy.

Keep up healthy habits – even after the baby is born. Many women who have gestational diabetes see a dietitian or a diabetes educator to guide them in developing healthy habits during pregnancy. But what many women don’t realize is that it’s just as important to keep up with those healthy habits even after the baby is born.

If you had gestational diabetes, it is important to get tested for diabetes 6-12 weeks after your baby is born, and at least every three years after that.

It is also important to reach and maintain a healthy weight by making healthy food choices, such as following an eating plan lower in fat and calories and high in fiber, and being active for at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Even if women do not reach their “goal” weight, research shows that maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your chances of getting type 2 diabetes. You can do this by following a healthy meal plan for you and your family.

Some tips:

  • Choose healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, fish, chicken and turkey without the skin, dry beans and peas, whole grains, and low-fat or non-fat milk and cheese.
  • Drink water instead of juices or sodas.
  • When eating a meal, fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables; one quarter with a lean protein, such as beans, or chicken or turkey without the skin; and one quarter with a whole grain, such as brown rice or whole wheat pasta.

Build physical activity into your day one step at a time. Find an activity that you like and do it regularly. For example, go for a walk, swim, jog, or dance. Be active for a total of 30 minutes a day, five days a week. You can break this up into 10 minutes, three times a day. Being active can help keep you healthy and prevent type 2 diabetes.

Take steps to keep your family healthy. Help your children make healthy food choices and be active for at least 60 minutes each day. Do things together as a family, such as making healthy meals or playing active games together. Limit your kids’ play time in front of the computer, tablets, smartphones, and television to two hours per day.

The National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) — a joint program of the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — has many resources and tip sheets available at www.yourdiabetesinfo.org to help you prevent diabetes, such as Did You Have Gestational Diabetes When You Were Pregnant? We want to help you take care of yourself and live a healthy life, and the NDEP’s free resources can help show you how to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Start with the tips listed here, and please visit YourDiabetesInfo.org for more information today.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Diabetes Education Program is jointly sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with the support of more than 200 partner organizations.