Pregnancy comes with its fair share of challenges. From lower back pain, fluctuating hormones and morning sickness, there is a lot to deal with. Another health issue that needs to be considered is the risk of developing Gestational Diabetes and how to manage it.

What is Gestational Diabetes? 

You have probably heard of Type 2 Diabetes, but what is Gestational Diabetes? Gestational Diabetes is a form of Diabetes that is diagnosed while a woman is pregnant, meaning blood glucose levels are consistently elevated above normal during pregnancy. At 24-48 weeks a woman will typically undergo an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test to determine a potential diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes.

Women are at a greater risk of developing Gestational Diabetes during pregnancy due to hormonal changes, impacting glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. This can have immediate and long-term health impacts on both the mother and child.

Why is Gestational Diabetes a health concern?

Gestational diabetes can increase the risk of the mother developing preeclampsia (high blood pressure) during pregnancy which can lead to other complications during and post birth. For the child, gestational diabetes can increase birth weight and influence lower than normal blood glucose reading, which can lead to other health concerns down the track.

Having Gestational Diabetes during pregnancy can also increase the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes post pregnancy and Gestational Diabetes in future pregnancies. This can lead to further chronic health conditions such as heart disease and obesity. It can also impact the child’s chances of developing Diabetes as they age.

What are some risk factors to be mindful of?

  • Family history of Type 2 Diabetes and Gestational Diabetes
  • History of Gestational Diabetes in a previous pregnancy
  • Poor nutritional choices
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Obesity or weight issues
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
  • Other Metabolic and hormonal issues

Why is exercise so important?

Exercise is important for everyone, especially during pregnancy and when Gestational Diabetes is a health risk. Research has shown that exercise can reduce or even prevent the risk of developing Diabetes due to the positive effects exercise has on glycemic control and insulin sensitivity.

As we exercise, our muscles require gycogen for energy, so our body does a better job of pulling glucose from the blood stream for immediate use and recovery. Exercise has also been shown to reduce fasting blood glucose levels and blood glucose levels post meal consumption. Research also shows that when we exercise regularly, our body is more sensitive to a hormone called Insulin, which allows our body to manage glucose levels more effectively.

All in all, exercise significantly helps to prevent the risk of developing Diabetes at all stages of life and this is strongly supported in research.

What are some things to consider when exercising?

Firstly, if you haven’t started exercising yet, it’s not too late to start! Under the proper guidance and education of an Exercise Professional, exercise can be commenced during pregnancy. Exercise is safe and highly recommended for expecting Mothers, due to the many health benefits associated! However, there are some things to consider:

  • Be mindful of a changing centre of balance as the baby grows as your weight shifts.
  • Avoid contact or dangerous sports
  • Be mindful of dizzy spells as you move from a seated or lying position.
  • Be mindful of hot environments such as a heated pool or hot yoga.
  • Be mindful of changing hormones which may increase joint laxity and energy levels.

Ready to get started?

If you are feeling ready to get started with exercise, remember to talk to your GP first and get medical clearance, and determine whether there are any specific health considerations to bear in mind. From there, you may want to enlist the help of an Exercise Professional, such as an Exercise Physiologist to ensure you are completing an exercise program specific to your needs!

stay up to date!

Subscribe to receive exclusive content and notifications.