What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy and disappears that goes away after the baby is born. It is diagnosed when higher than normal blood sugar levels first appear during pregnancy. This normally occurs during the 24th – 28th week of pregnancy, and about 5-8% of pregnant women will develop gestational diabetes.

While maternal blood glucose levels usually return to normal after birth, there is an increased risk for the mother developing type 2 diabetes in the future. The baby may also be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

 

What causes gestational diabetes?

During pregnancy the placenta develops and produces hormones to help the fetus grow and develop, the action of the hormones block the action of the mother’s insulin, which is called insulin resistance. Due to this insulin resistance, the need for insulin in pregnancy is 2 or 3 times as high than normal. When the body is unable to produce this much insulin, gestational diabetes develops.

 

Gestational diabetes and exercise

An Accredited Exercise Physiologist can create an individualised exercise program, which can entail a mix of aerobic and strength training. Options for exercise can include walking, swimming, light strength training, body weight exercises and pilates. The inclusion of pelvic floor strengthening exercises is also an important inclusion for pregnant women.

For optimal results, you should aim to complete aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes 5 days per week, and 8 – 12 different strength exercises 3 days per week. These strength exercises should target major muscles all over the body.

Things to consider:

  • Check with your obstetrician or midwife prior to commencing an exercise program
  • Always seek guidance from an Exercise Physiologist.
  • Speak to your obstetrician, diabetes educator for guidance in terms of exercise and taking insulin medications.

 

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