We know well that lifestyle measures, such as eating right and exercise, play a role to help control gestational diabetes (high blood sugar disorder that only occurs during pregnancy, typically diagnosed in the third trimester ‘24-28 weeks of gestation’). A challenging question, can exercise reverse this maternal hyperglycemia?
The role of exercise in gestational diabetes treatment
If you’re diagnosed with gestational diabetes (GD), you’re the most important one in determining whether you can control it and have a healthy pregnancy. Like any form of diabetes, GD treatment also requires appropriate lifestyle measures – it doesn’t work with diabetic medicines alone!
High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) can hurt pregnancy. Poorly-controlled hyperglycemia in GD can pose a range of pregnancy complications for both you and your baby:
- Poorly-controlled GD can make your baby grow larger than should be. And this puts you at high risk of giving birth earlier (premature birth).
- Baby with premature birth may have some problems such as having particular organs that don’t completely develop in pregnancy or developing low blood sugar right after birth.
- The risk of miscarriage or stillbirth.
It’s important to learn as much as you can about your GD, so you will have adequate knowledge to have healthy pregnancy and deliver your baby without problem. For more assistance, you can ask your healthcare providers. They can help you learn how to care your pregnancy and prevent the complications from the condition.
Three basic things to control GD
Generally speaking – foods low in glycemic index (GI) are the priority when it comes to diet for diabetes. Lower GI foods are better! On the other hand, higher GI foods should be restricted since they can cause a sudden increase in your blood sugar level!
Furthermore, don’t forget to include foods low in fat, high in fiber and high in other essential nutrients (such as vitamins, minerals, and protein). It’s also important to pay attention on your daily calories budget. Weight gain is expected in pregnancy, but make sure to Not go too far (see also how many pounds of weight you should gain safely when pregnant in this table).
Fortunately, diet for diabetes is also good for the overall health of your pregnancy (even though if you don’t have GD). For more information, read also diet for diabetes!
How does exercise help?
As well we know, the pregnancy hormones stimulated by the placenta can interfere with the mother’s insulin – making cells of the body don’t respond well to insulin. Therefore more insulin is required during pregnancy, especially in late pregnancy. If the body fails to produce enough insulin, blood sugar level increases.
Regular, moderate exercise is very important when you’re pregnant, particularly true if you have GD. It can help a lot to improve your insulin sensitivity. Both exercise and diet can go hand in hand to help control your blood sugar.
Not all types of exercise are recommended for pregnancy. Avoid high-impact exercises! If you still don’t have idea, swimming and walking can be excellent choices to start. Try to do about 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, and do it at least 5 days per week!
To keep safe, talk to your doctor first! This is particularly true if you’re a sedentary individual before pregnant.
Another thing to remember is to keep monitoring your blood glucose levels! Your doctor may ask you to check it at particular times of the day such as in the morning (before breakfast) or 1-2 hours after meal. If you take insulin, you may also need to check it before exercise.
So, can exercise reverse gestational diabetes?
Fortunately, it’s not always necessary to take insulin in GD (read also when you should start insulin in GD). Sometimes lifestyle measures alone are enough to cope with.
GD is quite common in pregnancy. The good news it’s controllable and will go away on its own soon after giving birth. As long as you can control it as well, there should be nothing to worry. Even many women with GD can successfully deliver healthy babies.
But you cannot get rid of it during pregnancy. The increased pregnancy hormones are often to blame for the main reason behind the problem. And these hormones can’t be removed before delivery, neither can GD.
So when people talking about reversed diabetes, it actually means when you can go off the diabetic medication. As noted before, sometimes gestational diabetes can be controlled with lifestyle measures alone. For more information of whether or not it can be reversed, see also this section!
Again, it’s important to keep your blood sugar within the target range. The main goal of the treatment is to control your blood sugar (glucose) level, not to cure it!