The newest online edition of the journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology is reporting that women who gain weight between pregnancies are more likely to develop gestational diabetes.  Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy as a cascade of maternal hormones effect the body’s ability to utilize insulin to control blood sugar levels.  Insulin is responsible for detecting changes in blood sugar levels and keeping them within normal range–however thanks to a mother’s changing body, insulin in these moms isn’t able to keep sugar levels in check, resulting in diabetes.

Gestational diabetes can vary from mild to more severe cases. Some women may be able to control blood sugar levels by adjusting what they eat–others may face months of injections to control sugar levels and help reduce their chances of obstetric or labor complications.  Babies who are born to mothers with gestational diabetes have a higher likelihood of being large for their age (which results in higher cesarean section rates) and difficulty maintaining their sugar levels after delivery, resulting in the need for IV therapy, and more strenuous monitoring to stabilize them.

So how do you prevent gestational diabetes (GDM)? According to researchers, moms may need to keep those pre-pregnancy pounds in check.  Now, for anyone who has ever had a baby, we all know the struggle that comes with trying to shed those last 5, 10, or even 20 pounds after the birth of a baby—and most of us never do get it all off. For most women, an expected weight gain is between 25 and 30 pounds during a pregnancy, with some women gaining more or less based on their starting weights.   The study, conducted at the Kaiser Permanente Division of research found that mothers who gained (or kept on) between 12 and 17 pounds between pregnancies more than doubled their chances of developing gestational diabetes. The results of the study were the same for obese and average weight women.

For any woman who is considering having a baby, it’s important to consider pre-conceptual counseling to help identify any issues that may hinder a healthy pregnancy. Issues such as diet, weight and body mass index, genetic issues, chronic diseases, and your reproductive history should all be explored before you try to get pregnant. Consulting with Dr. Hessel is a smart first step whether you have known health issues to tackle or not. By working with a trusted, competent health care provider you can enjoy a healthier pregnancy and increase your chances of delivering a happy, healthy baby.