The same lifestyle changes doctors recommend to help manage blood sugar levels can help many women with gestational diabetes prevent extensive weight gain.

Each year in the United States, somewhere between 2–10% of pregnancies are affected by gestational diabetes. Although this condition is fairly common, if left untreated, serious health complications can develop for the mother and baby.

Having diabetes can raise your likelihood of putting on extra weight.

The frequent exercise and dietary adjustments doctors recommend to manage your blood sugar levels can help you maintain a healthy weight throughout your pregnancy.

This article will offer more information on gestational diabetes, how it affects your weight during pregnancy, and what you might discuss with your healthcare team to address this health issue.

A healthy pregnancy typically involves gaining about 25 pounds. But the exact amount depends on your body mass index (BMI) and how many babies you are carrying.

Women with any type of diabetes are more likely to have greater weight gain because extra blood sugar and insulin in the bloodstream can trigger the body to store sugar as fat.

Excessive weight gain after a gestational diabetes diagnosis can be dangerous for your health and pregnancy, possibly leading to poor pregnancy outcomes.

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In this article, Healthline uses terms like “gender” and “women” to refer to those who are born female at birth.

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Because women with gestational diabetes often avoid sugary foods and exercise frequently in an effort to manage their blood sugar levels, they can maintain their current weight or even lose weight.

Since some weight gain is usual during pregnancy, it’s important to talk with your doctor if you are losing weight or not gaining the expected amounts of weight during your pregnancy.

One study found that women with gestational diabetes retained similar amounts of weight after giving birth to those who did not have gestational diabetes.

The reasons why women may find it difficult to lose weight during the postpartum period after having gestational diabetes are complex and are not always related to having gestational diabetes. They can include:

  • a requirement for more sedentary behaviors (e.g., rocking a baby or breastfeeding or chestfeeding)
  • fewer opportunities for physical activity while recovering from labor and delivery
  • lacking the time and finances necessary for a healthy lifestyle

Research shows that women between 18 and 40 years old are at a higher risk for weight gain than older women, which can make losing weight harder, too.

In most cases, gestational diabetes resolves on its own shortly after delivery. You’ll need to continue healthy lifestyle habits even after this occurs if you wish to lose more weight or maintain a recommended weight, though.

Even small weight losses following delivery can matter greatly. For every 1 kg lost, the chance of developing diabetes may decrease by 16%. This is important since about 50% of women who experience gestational diabetes develop type 2 diabetes.

Women with a history of gestational diabetes are also more likely to experience hypertension and ischemic heart disease.

According to a 2019 study, losing more than 2 kg may cause improvements in insulin resistance and cholesterol levels, which reduces the chances of this.

Regular exercise and a modified diet can help you lose weight related to gestational diabetes.

It’s also important to follow your doctor’s advice for regulating your blood glucose levels. This may include frequent blood sugar monitoring and the use of insulin.

Remember, some weight gain is typical during pregnancy, so it’s important to talk with your doctor before making lifestyle changes specifically to lose weight.

It’s also important to get tested for diabetes 6–12 weeks after giving birth (and every 1–3 years after that). If blood sugar levels remain high, it becomes known as type 2 diabetes. You can work with your doctor to manage any continuing diabetes to prevent weight gain and other serious health complications.

The body will store extra sugar as fat when high levels of glucose and insulin are present in the blood, so women with gestational diabetes may gain weight.

Many women with gestational diabetes find that dietary changes and frequent exercise to help manage their blood sugar levels are also beneficial for managing weight gain. It’s important to talk with your doctor before trying to lose weight during pregnancy.