Gestational diabetes is a complication that occurs in 2 to 4 % of pregnancies in Europe and in America, during the second and third trimester and then disappears for most women after pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is not caused by the consumption of sugar (carbohydrates) nor is it directly related to weight, even though women who are significantly overweight before pregnancy are more at risk.
This complication is caused by an increase in blood sugar (glycaemia) that is provoked by hormones secreted by the placenta. These hormones reduce the effectiveness of insulin, which in turn allows the blood sugar to enter the body's cells– it's what we call insulin resistance. If there is too much sugar circulating in the blood, blood sugar will be too high. A test is available to determine whether there is presence of gestational diabetes. Too much sugar in the blood stream is not a good thing for the baby, as it increases the baby's weight too quickly. As for the mother, she no longer has the necessary energy to accomplish daily activities, she is tired and is constantly hungry and thirsty, since the sugar in her blood does not reach her cells.
If you suffer from gestational diabetes, it is important to consult a dietician or a nutritionist in order to design a food plan that will allow you to control your glycaemia and to monitor daily physical activities. The time of day to exercise is very important, since glycaemia varies according to your daily activities. Recent studies suggest that pregnant women should schedule their physical activities according to the time of day when their blood sugar is at its highest.
The doctor's advice
« Physical exercise should be part of a daily routine for every women struggling with diabetes, pregnant or not, in order to improve carbohydrate (sugar) metabolism. Pregnant women who suffer from diabetes, obesity or chronic hypertension must be followed by a training specialist that will be able to prescribe an adapted and customized training program according to their condition. »
Physical exercise is beneficial in the prevention of gestational diabetes in women with a body mass index greater than 30. If you are at risk, you should make sure to regularly exercise at least three times a week for 30 minutes.»
- Dr. Pascale Desautels, obstetrician-gynaecologist