A woman’s life might take a detour after marriage, but it takes on a complete roller coaster ride after pregnancy and childbirth. In order to handle such situations, it would be easier if the lady involved takes care of her body before pregnancy and keeps herself fit as a fiddle to handle the overwhelming pressure thereon.
Women look after their body with ample care before marriage. Right after marriage, many girls ignore their physical health and toil for the family. You might call it sacrifice, selflessness or by any other term, but this is sheer ignorance which can lead to body complications later. Every woman is a boon to her family and she must ensure to take good care of her health to support and work for her own wellness and for other family members. Apart from this, only when a lady keeps herself fit before conceiving it would benefit her during and after pregnancy.
Physicians, gynecologists and RDNSs recommend women in childbearing age to take good care of their physical and mental health by eating healthy foods, exercising regularly and leading an active lifestyle. While this remains as a general rule, it turns out to be effective in various other aspects of health as well. Being fit and healthy during pregnancy reduces the risk of gestational diabetes in women.
Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM)
Gestational diabetes mellitus is defined as glucose intolerance that develops during the second or third trimester of pregnancy. It is also possible that glucose intolerance could have started right after the onset of pregnancy but remained unnoticed until later. GDM is a temporary condition that occurs during pregnancy and carries the risk of type 2 diabetes in the long run. In GDM, the blood glucose levels are way above normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
GDM remains a severe yet neglected threat with several complications including high blood pressure, large birth weight infants and obstructed labor. It is well-observed that almost 50% of women with GDM develop type 2 diabetes within 5 or 10 years after delivery. Sadly, almost 1 in 3 women with diabetes are of reproductive age.
Risk factors for GDM include overweight/obesity, excessive weight gain during pregnancy, family history of GDM or occurrence of GDM during previous pregnancy. A pregnant lady with GDM increases the chances of future obesity and type 2 diabetes in offspring. Weight gain during pregnancy contributes to 30% maternal fat accumulation and varies in composition depending on the trimester. Weight gain during the early stages of pregnancy is mostly fat and could influence resulting insulin resistance.
According to the latest study by researchers at the University of Iowa, expectant mothers who were fit and active before pregnancy are at a reduced risk of developing gestational diabetes. The researchers analyzed data from 1,333 women over a 25-year period and during this period, the women reappeared seven times for data collected and reported whether they became pregnant, gave birth or developed gestational diabetes. There was even a fitness test performed on these women where the researchers made them walk on a treadmill at increasing speeds and various steepening inclines for two-minute intervals.
During the study period, 164 women developed gestational diabetes and it was noticed that, women who remained fit during the pre-pregnancy period had a 21% lower risk of developing gestational diabetes than those with lower fitness levels. Time and again researchers insist on one point solely-get in better shape before becoming pregnant. This research also serves the physicians community to use it as a proof to recommend higher pre-pregnancy fitness to patients, especially those at a greater risk of gestational diabetes. It has been noted that most women who develop GDM later during pregnancy already posses elevated metabolic risk factors before pregnancy.
Individuals who are determined to become fit can engage in 150 minutes of moderate- or vigorous physical activity per week (30 minutes per day, five days per week). Walking, cycling or aerobic exercises are included in moderate-activity list while jogging, Zumba or cross fit constitute vigorous activities. It is appreciable that women are extremely cautious during pregnancy taking care of what they eat and what exercise they get. It is better to get in touch with an RDN at www.firsteatright.com to chalk out your diet plan before, during and after pregnancy for a balanced diet that is easy to follow as well as healthy to eat. This study is an eye-opener for all women in childbearing age to engage in healthy behavior before getting pregnant as well.
Pre-pregnancy precautions include increased intake of dietary fiber, decreasing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, animal fats, cholesterol-rich foods and red meat, replacing animal proteins with proteins from nuts and decreasing intake on heme iron (animal sources of iron). Apart from diet, exercising regularly during pre-pregnancy stages was greatly associated with reduced risk of gestational diabetes.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.