Reducing Your Risk of Gestational Diabetes
En Español (Spanish Version)

Here are some ways to reduce your risk of gestational diabetes :

  • Maintain a normal weight gain during pregnancy.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Avoid smoking.
Maintain a Normal Weight Gain During Pregnancy
The National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine makes the following recommendations regarding weight gain during pregnancy:

Weight classification before pregnancy*Institute of Medicine recommended gestational weight gainUnderweight (BMI 19.7 and under)28 to 40 lbNormal (BMI 19.8-24.9)25 to 35 lbOverweight (BMI 25-29.9)15 to 25 lbObese (BMI 30 or greater)15 to 25 lb
*These values are based on body mass index (BMI)—the ratio of your weight in kilograms to your height in meters squared. Recognize that these values are for Caucasians, which may not apply to Asians who have smaller body frames and different percentage of body fat.

Besides increasing your risk for gestational diabetes, excessive weight gain during pregnancy is also a risk factor for obesity post-pregnancy. It should be noted that the subject of recommended pregnancy weight gain remains somewhat controversial and that some feel that the above guidelines are too high. Talk with your doctor about what range of weight gain is right for you.

Eat a Healthy Diet
Even before pregnancy begins, nutrition is a primary factor in the health of the mother and the baby. Besides lowering your risk of gestational diabetes , eating a healthy diet lowers your and your baby’s risk of serious complications during and after pregnancy. A healthy diet is one that is low in saturated fat and rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Talk to your doctor about whether you should take probiotic supplements to reduce your risk of gestational diabetes.

Avoid Smoking
If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit to reduce your risk of gestational diabetes.

Exercise Regularly
Participating in a regular exercise program can lower your risk of developing gestational diabetes by helping you maintain a healthy weight. But, it is very important that you discuss exercise with your doctor before you begin.

Choose exercises that do not require your body to bear any extra weight. Good examples are:

  • Swimming
  • Stationary cycling
  • Walking
  • Low-impact aerobics
  • Yoga
When you are exercising, be sure to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids, even if you are not thirsty. If your body temperature goes up too high, it can be dangerous for your baby.

Avoid contact sports or vigorous sports. Also, avoid any exercises that increase your risk of falls or injury.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Diabetes and pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: Accessed July 2010.

Chung S, Song MY, et al. Korean and Caucasian overweight premenopausal women have different relationship of body mass index to percent body fat with age. J Appl Physiol. 2005;99:103-107.

Mottola MF. The role of exercise in the prevention and treatment of gestational diabetes mellitus. Cur Sports Med Rep. 2007;6:381-386.

MyPyramid for Pregnancy and Breastfeeding website. Available at: Accessed October 30, 2007.

Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes 2006 III. Detection and diagnosis of gestational diabetes mellitus. Diabetes Care. 2006;29:S7

Tieu J, Crowther CA, et al. Dietary advice in pregnancy for preventing gestational diabetes mellitus. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008;16(2):CD006674.

Yun S, kabeer NH, et al. Modifiable risk factors for developing diabetes among women with previous gestational diabetes. Prev Chronic Dis. 2007;4:A07.

3/17/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Luoto R, Laitinen K, et al. Impact of material probiotic-supplemented dietary counselling on pregnancy outcome and prenatal and postnatal growth: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Br J Nutr. 2010. Jun;103(12):1792-1799.

10/13/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Zhang C, Tobias DK, et al. Adherence to healthy lifestyle and risk of gestational diabetes mellitus: prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2014 Sep 30;349.

Last Reviewed September 2014

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