Faith Bontrager, RN, BSN

Faith Bontrager, RN, BSNFaith's passion in nursing is to help people find the options they need to discover their personal path to optimum health. Ask her friends and they will tell you that their appreciation of nutritious food has grown through Faith. About Faith Bontrager, RN, BSN


A Healthy Pregnancy

Decreasing the Risk of Gestation Diabetes

Gestation diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a serious illness with potentially serious consequences. Can you do anything to decrease your risk of getting GDM? Yes!


Women who are obese are more likely to develop gestational diabetes (GDM) than women with normal weight. Losing weight before becoming pregnant can help decrease your risk of developing GDM.

Most pregnant women should not attempt to lose weight during pregnancy (See What is a healthy weight gain during pregnancy?). Instead of making weight loss a goal during pregnancy, focus on learning to eat healthy food.


Gestational diabetes is, at least in part, related to a decreased sensitivity to insulin. Regular exercise increases insulin sensitivity. Moderate exercise such as walking 30 minutes most days is a good level for most women. Try a pregnancy exercise class for variety. Women who exercised during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy were 48% less likely to develop GDM. Women who exercised for the year before their pregnancy and continued to exercise during pregnancy had even lower rates of developing GDM.

If you have a high risk pregnancy or pregnancy complications, check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.


Can your diet increase or decrease your risk of gestational diabetes? Perhaps.

Several years ago researchers discovered that people who consistently ate a high - fiber diet were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Those who ate a low glycemic index diet were also less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. While these diets have not been studied in relationship to GDM, both of these diets improve insulin sensitivity so it makes sense that these diets might help protect against gestational diabetes.

Could a single food make a difference in your risk for GDM? Researchers recently published findings that suggest that overconsumption of colas is associated with a significantly higher risk of developing GDM.

A large group of women who had given birth were asked about their beverage consumption and how often they drank each type of beverage. Those who drank more than 5 sodas per week had a 22% increased risk of developing GDM over those who drank less than 1 soda per month.

The study has been criticized by those who say that the beverage link is "guilt by association" that is, women who drink more sodas are also less likely to eat enough vegetables. This is probably true, however when the researchers analyzed the data to remove influences from other unhealthy behaviors (such as being overweight or a lack of exercise) women who drank more sodas were still significantly more likely to develop GDM than women who didn't.

Spending too much time on whether the sodas themselves were the link with GDM or were part of an unhealthy lifestyle linked to GDM may be an important academic question, but practically it makes little difference. Drinking more than 5 sodas weekly is NOT healthy for pregnant women. Sodas provide no significant nutrients and only empty calories, yet they are the chief source of added sugar in the diets of women of childbearing ages.

Having an occasional soda isn't likely to hurt you or your baby, but don't make sodas your regular beverage during pregnancy. Water, fruit juices or a wholesome glass of milk are all better choices.

Nourish yourself and your child!