A study published this week in the journal Diabetes Care showed that rates of gestational diabetes among Canadian women nearly doubled from 1996 to 2010. It’s no secret that the rates of diabetes are on the rise, and this fact applies to prenatal health, too. If you’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, read on for key facts about the condition and helpful tips you can use to stay healthy throughout your pregnancy.

What is gestational diabetes?
According to the American Diabetes Association, gestational diabetes is a condition found in women who have high glucose levels during pregnancy but have never been diagnosed with diabetes before. The most recent research shows around 18 percent of pregnancies today are affected by gestational diabetes.

While no one knows exactly what causes the condition, some doctors believe the hormones that help the baby develop also block insulin from being absorbed by the mother’s body. This type of insulin resistance is commonly found in patients diagnosed with prediabetes.

How will gestational diabetes affect your baby?
This is often the most burning question on the minds of most mothers-to-be. The good news is, you can relax. Physicians at Mayo Clinic say gestational diabetes often occurs after the baby’s body is formed, greatly reducing the possibility of birth defects.

However, it’s important you take special care to keep your blood sugar under control. Blood glucose levels that are too high for too long can lead to a condition called macrosomia, which causes babies to experience high insulin levels and difficulty breathing at birth. New studies have shown babies with excess insulin in their bodies are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes when they grow up.

Healthy-living tips for coping with gestational diabetes
Because gestational diabetes can affect you and your baby it’s important to start treatment right away. Start by talking to your doctor. This can help put your mind at ease and allow you to develop a personalized plan for your diabetes management.

One of the most important things you can do after being diagnosed with gestational is to develop and maintain a healthy eating plan. By talking to your doctor, you’ll learn how to create a healthy balance of carbohydrates, lean proteins, and fresh produce in order to keep your blood sugar in control. As a general rule, most doctors recommend women gain 25-35 pounds during pregnancy.

In addition to eating well, it’s important to keep up with a regular exercise routine. Low-impact activities, such as walking, swimming, or stationary cycling are all healthy options that help you stay fit during pregnancy. Doctors recommend you get at least 30 minutes of activity, 5 days per week.

You’ll also want to make sure your blood glucose levels stay within a healthy range. You and your doctor should discuss what a healthy blood sugar range means for you. The American Diabetes Association recommends testing your blood glucose before meals, as well as both 1 and 2 hours after you finish eating.

Finally, know you aren’t alone. Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes can be scary, but you should remember that your partner, family, friends, and doctor are all on your team. When you feel alone or confused, reach out to a loved one for support. You can also research local support groups to get in touch with other mothers-to-be who are experiencing the same challenges as you.

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