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Gestational Diabetes – Weight Gain – What is the Connection

When it comes to gestational diabetes, weight gain during pregnancy often gets the lion’s share of the blame. The fact is that weight gain is a natural part of pregnancy. However, the normal weight gain associated with pregnancy combined with a few new, and unfamiliar, hormones, creates an atmosphere in which insulin is no longer able to process glucose in the blood the way it ordinarily does. For this reason gestational diabetes, weight gain, and hormones go hand in hand.

Risk Factors for Gestational Diabetes

It’s important to note that anyone who is pregnant can develop gestational diabetes. There are no outward symptoms of gestational diabetes, though there are a few risk factors that increase the possibility of developing gestational diabetes, weight gain isn’t among them, though obesity is. Other risk factors include:

  • Ethnicity (women of certain racial or ethnic backgrounds are at increased risk for gestational diabetes)
  • Age (women over the age of 35 are more susceptible)
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Personal history of gestational diabetes
  • Previous birth of child weighing more than eight pounds
  • High blood pressure
  • Excess amniotic fluid

Because there are no visible symptoms of gestational diabetes, doctors will order tests on all women who are pregnant between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy unless there are enough indicators, such as those mentioned above, to warrant earlier testing.

Some physicians will skip testing in women who are within normal weight ranges, who are not of high-risk ethnicity, have no family history of diabetes, present no other common risk factors, and are under the age of 25 — though this is not a standard practice.

Is Gestational Diabetes Weight Gain a Foregone Conclusion?

With obesity playing such a high-profile role among risk factors, it’s easy to get caught up on that one aspect of gestational diabetes. Weight gain, though, does not always coincide with gestational diabetes.

Once a diagnosis is made, it’s not uncommon for women to experience some weight loss as women increase fitness levels and make dietary changes in response to the diagnosis of gestational diabetes. Weight gain becomes less pronounced — even during pregnancy, and may be negated by the improved health and fitness.

So the answer is no. When it comes to gestational diabetes, weight gain is not inevitable. In fact, it’s not even likely once you begin making the necessary changes to your diet and lifestyle to keep you and your baby healthy.

The most critical thing to help you see past stereo types such as gestational diabetes weight gain and more is to educate yourself about what gestational diabetes represents in your life and for the many other women (current CDC estimates are that 18 percent of all pregnant women develop gestational diabetes) who have this condition. Once you have the facts, you can put worries about excessive gestational diabetes weight gain and other myths behind you to focus on the changes you must make for the sake of your health and the health of your unborn child.


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