Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a type of diabetes that is diagnosed first during pregnancy. While the symptoms for the mother are not much different than regular diabetes, there are many proven complications it can cause for the infant. The most significant is macrosomia, or high birth weight. Babies with macrosomia often cause birth complications and need to be delivered by a cesarean section. Babies born to mothers with GDM might also experience birth trauma and infant hypoglycemia.

Many women who have GDM for the duration of their birth will lose it by the time they deliver their child, or soon after. However, obese women are already predisposed to Type 2 Diabetes and they are likely to contract it permanently after they get GDM. Similarly, studies show that women who were obese before they became pregnant have a greater chance of contracting GDM.

If you have a higher than average BMI, it is more likely that you will get GDM during your pregnancy. In fact, a large percentage of all cases of GDM can be traced back to pre-pregnancy obesity. While there is no 100% sure-fire way to prevent GDM, losing weight before you become pregnant will certainly help your odds. Not only can losing weight decrease the risk of the severely negative side effects of GDM, but it can also have other positive effects on your pregnancy. In fact, it has been proven that even if women struggle their whole lives with obesity, losing weight in time for conception will prevent the negative side effects of obesity from being passed on to the baby.

Before you conceive, try starting a weight loss plan that includes healthy diet and exercise. Some causes of GDM are unknown, but obesity is most definitely one of the factors that bring it on. Since the negative side effects of GDM are so serious, preventing it is worth a shot. If you contract GDM during your pregnancy, there is a very high chance your baby will be larger than average, which can lead to fatal complications. Additionally, hyperglycemia and obesity can be transferred to your baby with GDM, and they will have to live with these serious issues for the rest of their life. Even if you have struggled with obesity your whole life, losing weight before conception, or even once you have found out you’re pregnant, can eliminate the negative side effects on the fetus.

Source: Shin Y. Kim et al: Percentage of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus Attributable to Overweight and Obesity. The American Journal of Public Health Volume 100 Issue 6 June 2010