Another Reason to Watch Your Post-Baby Weight

Creative Commons License photo credit: Universitetssykehuset Nord-Norge (UNN)

As if you didn’t already have compelling enough reasons to keep a handle on your weight during and after your pregnancy, a new study suggests that there may be even more reasons to do so. If you’re going to try to get pregnant again at any point, you’ll want to keep weight gain inside normal pregnancy limits and also limit postpartum weight gain, or you run the risk of developing gestational diabetes the next time you’re pregnant.

The study, which looked at 22,000 women was published in Obstetrics and Gynecology shows that when a woman gains too much weight after pregnancy, she has an increased risk for having pregnancy-related diabetes.

For example, a woman who is 5’4” and who gains 15 pounds after her baby is born will increase her odds of getting pregnancy-related diabetes by 100%, doubling the risk. A woman who keeps the weight steady should have no additional risk, while a woman who gains 18 pounds or more after pregnancy will increase her odds by three times.

The good news is that, while it’s not always easy or quick to take off those pounds after pregnancy, it’s usually relatively easy to keep from gaining additional weight which leads to increased risk. By doing the basics, such as avoiding fatty foods, eating balanced meals, and getting a moderate amount of exercise, you can keep your body in shape, and reduce health risks such as gestational diabetes.

Understanding Gestational Diabetes

It’s important to understand what exactly gestational diabetes is. If you have it, your body is producing plenty of insulin, but that insulin won’t lower your blood glucose levels the way it should. That insulin doesn’t cross the placenta to your baby, but the extra blood glucose can. This means your baby makes extra insulin, which winds up creating extra body fat.

If gestational diabetes is controlled, it shouldn’t cause any problems for you or for your baby. If it’s not maintained, it can cause problems with shoulder damage, breathing problems, and macrosomia (also known as “fat baby” syndrome.

So, put down that donut, get on that treadmill, and make your next pregnancy as healthy as it can be.

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