If your healthcare provider has told you that you have gestational diabetes (GDM) during your pregnancy, there are some things you need to do after you’ve had your baby in order to stay healthy.
Continue the diet and lifestyle changes made during your pregnancy. If you’ve had GDM with one or more pregnancies, you are likely to get GDM if you get pregnant again. Even if you never have another baby, you are at risk of developing diabetes. The lifestyle changes you made in pregnancy can delay or stop the development of diabetes, including healthy eating, breastfeeding, being active, reducing stress, and getting regular healthcare.
Breastfeeding helps with weight loss. There are fewer women who are diagnosed with diabetes who have breastfed their babies; the incidence of diabetes is higher for women who had GDM and who fed their infants with formula.
For your baby, breastfeeding decreases his lifetime risk of diabetes and obesity. Exclusive breastfeeding (no formula) for at least 2 months decreases his risk of developing diabetes and becoming obese later in life. Even feeding your baby a combination of breast milk and formula is better than feeding him formula alone.
Now that your baby is born, you’ll need to think about birth control. The best birth control choices are barrier methods – like condoms. Another good option is a device your healthcare provider can implant called an intrauterine device (IUD). Avoid progesterone-only methods of birth control such as the birth control shot or progesterone-only pills, and always discuss your choices with your healthcare provider to make sure you’ve chosen the best method for you.
If you’re thinking about getting pregnant again, make sure your blood sugar is normal to prevent problems for you and your next baby.
Eating healthy, balanced meals and snacks is important. Maintaining a normal weight will lower your risk of getting diabetes. Ask your healthcare provider to refer you to a registered dietitian who can help you design and follow a healthy eating plan for weight loss.
After you’ve received the green light to start exercising again, find something that you enjoy doing and stick with it. You need 30 minutes of activity on at least five days a week to decrease your risk of diabetes and to help you lose weight.
Stress affects everyone. Do things that lower your stress like exercise, eating healthy, and sleeping when your baby sleeps. Ask friends or family to help you with the cooking and cleaning.
See your healthcare provider 6 weeks after you birth your baby to have another glucose tolerance test to see if you have diabetes. It’s important for you to see your healthcare team regularly (at least one time every year). You are at risk of developing diabetes and heart (cardiovascular) disease if you had GDM in pregnancy. Have regular blood work done to test for diabetes and high cholesterol.