Were you one of the 9% of American women who experienced gestational diabetes in a pregnancy? (source) I was for my 2nd pregnancy and although I never went through the testing again, I managed my blood sugars for the other pregnancies I had after that, like I did have gestational diabetes.
OK, so what is significant about gestational diabetes? If you get through your pregnancy fine and the baby is born well and healthy, that should settle things, right? How does this affect your future?
Not so fast. There can be risks to the baby, but this article is not focused on that. I am interested in focusing on what happens to the women after those pregnancies and the management of their blood sugar. My concern is with those women who develop insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, because often these risk factors are ignored until diabetes is full blown in a woman’s life. It is significant that women who are affected by gestational diabetes have more than a 7-fold increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes 5 to 10 years after delivery. (source)
The problem with gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes in general is that damage is done long before symptoms become apparent. If you have gestational diabetes in at least 1 pregnancy, that is a wake up call. Take it seriously and monitor your own health consistently from them on. If you do this, you can make a long term difference in your health.
Live like you are pre-diabetic from now on. That means continuing to keep aware of your blood sugar readings with some regularity. So keep that glucometer handy and continue to use it. It could be once a week, once a day, once every two weeks, but pay attention and if you see a shift towards a higher direction, take steps to prevent diabetes.
Adopt a low carb, high fat diet. If you are no longer pregnant, you probably don’t need a keto diet (the most extreme form of low carb with less than 20 gms of carb per day); probably 50-100 gms of carb/day will be a good marker, but it is only as you keep track of your blood sugars that you can really tell how your body is doing. If you act like diabetes is coming, then you can hold it off for many years and perhaps forever, because you are forewarned. Diabetes is preventable, but only if you know to take the proper steps to do so. For more on this diet, I have an article that addresses the benefits of the low-carb, high fat diet.
Start intermittent fasting. This will work for you once you are no longer pregnant or breastfeeding, so it does not work for the time you are actually in diabetes. But there will come a point when you are no longer growing or feeding babies. At this point I recommend you look into intermittent fasting as it is a great way to keep insulin resistance in check and prevent diabetes. I have a 30 day free intermittent fasting challenge that can get you started.
Sign up for my Diabetes Prevention Program, if you want more info and help to prevent diabetes in your own life.
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