Women with a history of gestational diabetes have a 35 to 60 percent chance of developing diabetes in the next 10 to 20 years. Additionally, the children of pregnancies where the mother had gestational diabetes may also be at increased risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes.
If you have a history of gestational diabetes, there are small, but important steps you can take to lower your chances of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.
Regular screening is very important.
If you were diagnosed with diabetes during pregnancy, you should get tested for diabetes 6 to 12 weeks after your baby is born. If the test results show that blood sugar (or blood glucose) is higher than normal, but not high enough to be diabetes, you should get tested for diabetes every year. Otherwise, you should plan to get tested every 3 years.
In addition to getting tested for diabetes regularly after your child is born, you should also talk to your doctor about earlier screening for gestational diabetes in future pregnancies.
Because children born from pregnancies affected by gestational diabetes may also be at increased risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes, it’s a good idea for you to let your child’s pediatrician know you had gestational diabetes when you were pregnant with that child.
Keep up healthy habits - for yourself and your family - even after baby is born.
It’s just as important to keep up healthy habits after your baby is born. Women with a history of gestational diabetes should try to reach and maintain a healthy weight by making healthy food choices and being active for at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week.
- A healthy meal plan for people with diabetes is a healthy meal plan for everyone.
- Choose foods that are high in fiber and low in saturated fats, fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
- Eat a colorful mix of fruits and vegetables, fish, lean meats, chicken or turkey without the skin, dry peas or beans, whole grains, and low-fat or skim milk and cheese.
- Physical activity is essential for managing diabetes risk and staying healthy.
- Set small goals to start and work your way up to at least 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week.
- An example of a good way to move more is brisk walking. Try brisk walking, dancing, swimming, biking, jogging, or any physical activity that helps get your heart rate up. You don’t have to get all your physical activity at one time. Try getting some physical activity throughout the day in 10 minute sessions.
Even if you do not reach your “goal” weight, research shows that maintaining a healthy weight through healthy food choices and being physically active can help lower your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
Breastfeeding is also beneficial for both mother and baby.
- Like all mothers, women with gestational diabetes should breastfeed their babies, if possible. Breastfeeding provides a number of benefits for your baby, including the right balance of nutrients and protection against certain illnesses.
- Breastfeeding is also beneficial for mothers. It allows the body to use up some extra calories that were stored during pregnancy. Losing weight after having the baby enhances overall health and is one way to reduce the chances of developing diabetes later in life.
These action steps are good for the entire family and help both you and your child manage the risks for developing diabetes in the future. Check out these resources:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) 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.
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