Recent studies have shown that Asian women are at a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), and 13.8% of pregnant women in Singapore develop GDM. It’s one of the most common conditions that affects women when there is high blood glucose concentration in the body during the middle or towards the end of pregnancy. Screening for GDM is usually done at 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy and the condition usually resolves after giving birth. But if GDM isn’t properly controlled during pregnancy, you and your baby may develop diabetes later in life, which will incur higher medical costs. For a healthier body and to safeguard your finances, here are the 4 lifestyle changes you need to make to protect yourself from gestational diabetes.
1. Limit sugary and processed foods
Diabetes is linked to obesity and a high carbohydrate diet. Carbohydrates affect glucose levels after meals; your body naturally breaks down carbohydrates and turns them into glucose, and your body releases insulin to control your blood glucose levels. But with diabetes, your blood sugar levels rise, which then causes more insulin to be released. To remedy this, you’ll need to increase fibre intake and reduce carbohydrate consumption. Studies have shown that “healthy diets before and during pregnancy can decrease the risk of GDM.” Eat well balanced meals with more whole grains, vegetables and protein, as well small meals throughout the day at regular times, and try to avoid consuming too much rice, potatoes, sweets and processed food.
2. Consult a registered dietitian
If you’re not sure what exactly you should be eating or how to make a diet plan, consult a registered dietitian who will work with you to create a nutrition care plan and provide counselling based on your needs. Remember to do your research on reputable dietitians and nutritionists who are registered and certified. Alternatively, request for a referral from the GDM clinic to consult a dietitian from the dietetics department at any of the hospitals in Singapore that provide outpatient care. To help ease the burden of medical costs, remember to sign up for the best maternity insurance in Singapore.
3. Exercise regularly
A healthy, active lifestyle and exercise plan during pregnancy go hand in hand with a healthy diet when it comes to protecting yourself from gestational diabetes. Exercise helps overcome insulin resistance, and as Singapore is currently under Phase 2, you can set up a home gym for as little as S$140! To stay fit, create a weekly workout plan to keep up with your fitness goals. For pregnant women, brisk walking after meals, cycling, swimming or yoga are some of the easy exercises you can do to stay active.
4. Take dietary supplements
Dietary supplements can help replenish the nutrients that your body may be deficient in. Before taking any supplements, consider taking a blood test to find out which nutrients you’re lacking and what supplements you need. Studies have shown that Vitamin D supplements can improve glucose tolerance, and omega 3 fatty-acid supplementation decreases the risk of jaundice and hospitalisation for your newborn. Myo-Inositol “improves insulin resistance in patients with gestational diabetes” while prebiotics - which can be found naturally in legumes, fruits, nuts and seeds - decreases blood glucose levels and prevents body weight gain.
What are the most necessary supplements?
|Vitamin D||Controls insulin sensitivity, increases insulin tolerance, reduces the risk of intolerance to glucose and gestational diabetes in the third trimester||S$7.97|
|Omega 3||Lowers incidence of jaundice in newborns, decreases hospitalisation rates||S$14.59|
|Myo-Inositol||Improves insulin resistance in patients with gestational diabetes||S$33.30|
|Prebiotics||Reduce insulin resistance and hyperglycemia||S$9.58|
Managing gestational diabetes postpartum
If you currently have gestational diabetes and are taking measures to improve your condition, it is likely to go away after giving birth. However, you may be at a higher risk of developing type-2 diabetes later in life, and should continue maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle after birth. To reduce the financial impact of medical costs pre- and postpartum, consider buying the best maternity insurance in Singapore to help you stay protected during pregnancy.