Reducing Your Risk of Gestational Diabetes
all information

Reducing Your Risk of Gestational Diabetes

Main Page | Risk Factors | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | Screening | Reducing Your Risk | Talking to Your Doctor | Resource Guide

En Español (Spanish Version)

Here are some ways to reduce your risk of gestational diabetes:

Maintain a Normal Weight Gain During Pregnancy

The National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine makes the following recommendations regarding weight gain during pregnancy:

Weight classification before pregnancy*Institute of Medicine recommended gestational weight gain
Underweight (19.7 and under)28 to 40 lb
Normal (19.8-24.9)25 to 35 lb
Overweight (25-29.9)15 to 25 lb
Obese (30 or greater)15 to 25 lb

*These values are based on Body Mass Index (BMI)—the ratio of your weight in kilograms to your height in meters squared. Recognize that these values are for Caucasians, which may not apply to Asians who have smaller body frames and different percentage of body fat.

Besides increasing your risk for gestational diabetes, excessive weight gain during pregnancy is also a risk factor for obesity post-pregnancy. It should be noted that the subject of recommended pregnancy weight gain remains somewhat controversial and that some feel that the above guidelines are too high. Talk with your doctor about what range of weight gain is right for you.

Eat a Healthful Diet

Even before pregnancy begins, nutrition is a primary factor in the health of the mother and the baby. Besides lowering your risk of gestational diabetes, eating a healthful diet lowers your and your baby’s risk of serious complications during and after pregnancy. A healthful diet is one that is low in saturated fat and rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

A new MyPyramid website, based on the US Department of Agriculture’s 2005 dietary guidelines, was recently released for pregnant or nursing women. The interactive site allows you to get a personalized food plan.

Exercise Regularly

Participating in a regular exercise program can lower your risk of developing gestational diabetes by helping you maintain a healthful weight. But, it is very important that you discuss exercise with your doctor before you begin.

Choose exercises that don’t require your body to bear any extra weight. Good examples are:

  • Swimming
  • Stationary cycling
  • Walking
  • Low-impact aerobics
  • Yoga

Be careful to avoid contact sports or vigorous sports, or any exercises that increase your risk of falls or injury. It is also important to avoid becoming overheated; if your body temperature rises too much, it can be dangerous for your baby. Also, drink plenty of fluids, even if you are not thirsty.


American Diabetes Association website. Available at:

Institute of Medicine website. Available at:

Mottola MF: The Role of Exercise in the Prevention and Treatment of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus. Cur Sports Med Rep. 2007;6:381-86.

MyPyramid for Pregnancy and Breastfeeding website. Available at: Accessed October 30, 2007.

National Institute of Child Health & Human Development website. Available at:

Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes 2006 III. Detection and diagnosis of gestational diabetes mellitus. Diabetes Care. 2006;29:S7

Tieu J, Crowther CA, Middleton P: Dietary advice in pregnancy for preventing gestational diabetes mellitus. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008’16(2):CD006674.

Chung S, Song MY, Shin HD, et al. Korean and Causician overweight premenopausal women have different relationship of body mass index to percent body fat with age. J Appl Physiol. 2005;99:103-107.

Yun S, kabeer NH, Zhu BP, Brownson RC. Modifiable risk factors for developing diabetes among women with previous gestional diabetes. Prev Chronic Dis. 2007;4:A07

Last reviewed June 2008 by David Juan, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Your Health and Happiness