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Living a healthy life after gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes

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Gestational diabetes (GDM) affects a significant number of women during pregnancy and as well as causing immediate complications it also increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. The good news is that there is support available and steps you can take to lower your risk.  

Understanding the risk 

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that develops during pregnancy and usually disappears after giving birth. Around 50% of women who experience gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years. The hormonal changes in pregnancy can make your body less sensitive to insulin, which can persist or lead to further complications if not managed properly. Understanding these physiological shifts and their long-term implications is the first step in taking control of your health. 

Monitoring your health post-pregnancy 

Postpartum care should include glucose testing to monitor your blood sugar levels. This is typically done at your 6-week postnatal check-up and then regularly after that . Continuous monitoring can help spot early on any potential shifts you might be making towards type 2 diabetes. Your healthcare professionals will recommend regular health check-ups that include monitoring your HbA1c levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Staying on top of these indicators is vital for early detection and prevention of type 2 diabetes so try to stay up to date with monitoring, even if you feel well and don’t have any symptoms causing you concern. 

What can you do to help? 

There are some simple changes you can make to your lifestyle to give yourself the best shot of avoiding type 2 diabetes and improve your overall health and wellbeing.  

Improve your diet 

Eating a balanced diet is essential for managing your health after gestational diabetes. A healthy, balanced diet will help to regulate your body’s insulin use and stabilise your blood sugar levels.  

Here are a few tips to help you eat better. 

  • Adopt a Mediterranean diet: Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. 
  • Choose low-glycaemic foods: Opt for foods that have a minimal impact on your blood sugar levels. 
  • Plan meals ahead: This will help you avoid the temptation to choose unhealthy options. 
  • Reduce sugar intake: Cut back on sugars to better control your blood sugar. 
  • Diversify your diet: Incorporate a variety of nutrient-rich foods to cover all your dietary needs. 
  • Increase your physical activity : Regular physical activity is really important as it can help to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes after gestational diabetes. 


Here are a few tips to help you move more. 

  • Set a weekly goal: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity such as brisk walking or cycling. 
  • Add exercise to your daily routine: Choose stairs over lifts, park further away from destinations, or take short walking breaks. 
  • Vary your activities: Mix different types of exercise to keep it interesting and cover different aspects of fitness. 

Watch your weight  

Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial after pregnancy as excess weight significantly increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

Here are a few tips to help you manage your weight.  

  • Seek professional support: Work with a dietitian or healthcare provider to tailor a weight management plan to meet your needs. 
  • Monitor your progress: Keep track of your weight changes and set realistic, achievable goals. 
  • Stay consistent: Consistency is key in weight management so try to stick to your plans and make adjustments as necessary. 
  • Focus on sustainable changes: Make little lifestyle changes that you can maintain long-term rather than quick fixes that will be hard to stick with. 


Help is at hand 

You’re not alone on your journey to maintain your health after gestational diabetes.  

  • Ask for support from family, friends and healthcare professionals.  
  • Join a support group or online community for those who are in a similar position to you and share experiences and advice, motivating one another to stay on track.  
  • Join a free programme like the gestational diabetes programme run by Healthier You. We’ll support and empower you to learn more about female health and weight loss guide you towards a healthier, brighter future.  

While having gestational diabetes does put you at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, hopefully you feel a little more hopeful about reducing your risk knowing that there are proactive steps you can take and support available. Consider joining our gestational diabetes programme today or discuss your health and any concerns you might have with your GP. 

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