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Gestational Diabetes and Postpartum Care


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For people who had Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) during pregnancy, blood sugar levels return to normal in the weeks after delivery. During postpartum, people who had GDM should be tested for diabetes with an oral glucose tolerance test. There is a chance that a person who had gestational diabetes with their previous pregnancy will also have GDM with their next pregnancy. It is important that people with GDM see their health care provider early in the postpartum period and have their blood sugar tested by their health care provider annually. Screening for GDM should occur at the first prenatal visit with the next pregnancy. 

When planning for future pregnancies, it is important to discuss family planning with a person's health care provider. Progesterone-only birth control can cause an increase in blood sugar levels, so other types of birth control may be recommended. When planning future pregnancies, it is recommended a person with Type 1, Type 2, or gestational diabetes keep their blood sugar in a normal range, maintain normal body weight, and see their health care provider for diabetes and preconception care.

It is important to understand that many people with Type 2 diabetes do not know they have it. Some people who are diagnosed with GDM may have had diabetes before becoming pregnant and did not know it. A person who had GDM is at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. Maintaining a normal weight, have healthy eating habits, and exercising regularly may help to avoid developing Type 2 diabetes.

To help prevent Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, the following is recommended:

  • Continue postpartum care with your health care provider.
  • Have an A1C blood sugar screening test done every year.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight. If a person is overweight or obese, a slow weight loss is recommended. For overweight or obese clients, losing at least 5% to 7% (10 to 14 pounds for a person weighing 200 pounds) of body weight can lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
  • Eat foods that are low in fat and sugar. Eat plenty of vegetables and whole grains.
  • Drink plenty of water and limit sweetened drinks and fruit juice.
  • Maintain a regular exercise routine. Being physically active at least 30 minutes every day, five days a week is important in preventing Type 2 diabetes.
  • Breastfeed as long as possible to improve blood sugar levels.
  • Have your lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides) checked at six months after deliver or after breastfeeding has stopped. People with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes or a history of GDM have a higher risk of elevated lipids, which is associated with heart disease. 

Postpartum can be a time of great adjustment. Sometimes people can feel sad or depressed after delivery, even if they have a healthy baby. It is recommended to reach out to your health care provider to talk about feelings you may have during postpartum.

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