Women should learn how to avoid gestational diabetes; it greatly increases risk of diabetes in the future. A single decision after pregnancy is critical.
A diagnosis of gestational diabetes is darn near a sure thing when it comes to developing diabetes later in life. Few things in the medical literature are as strongly linked as gestational diabetes and the later development of diabetes, as I have covered in a previous article that can be read here.
Of course, just like everything else, while the risk is high, it is not completely set in stone and the choices that you make can influence your risk. But the first factor is understanding just how high your risk is. I have found that many women who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes do not really get the complete picture from their obstetricians. Most know there is some risk, but just not how strong.
Without the knowledge of the impending danger, I don’t think women who experience gestational diabetes will be as dedicated to the lifestyle changes that are needed. These of course include the standard recommendations that have been covered in details in prior posts, but include short burst aerobic exercise, avoiding refined carbohydrates, stress management and an increased intake of fruits and vegetables.
Turns out that, while these are very important, there’s another surprising factor that can slash your risk of developing diabetes after diabetes in pregnancy.
Yup. Nursing the little newborn baby that seemingly created the gestational diabetes problem in the first place will help. Turns out, just like every other situation, that Mother Nature knew what she was doing. Even if you developed gestational diabetes, nursing your baby as Mother Nature intended can go a long way towards fixing the problem.
In this particular article, researchers looked at how breastfeeding affected the later risk of developing diabetes after having diabetes in pregnancy. Here’s what they found:
- Postpartum diabetes risk was dependent upon the treatment received during pregnancy (diet was stronger at protecting against later development of diabetes)
- In those women who breastfed their infants, the development of diabetes occur 10 years later than in women who did not nurse their infants. (Tweet this)
- Nursing for >3 months led to the lowest overall risks.
The bottom line is that, if you experience gestational diabetes while pregnant (of course, it is sort of by default “gestational”) lifestyle changes are not an option to lower the massive risk you will have for developing diabetes later in life.
But, as if you needed additional reasons to nurse your baby (and, as expected, I have covered this topic extensively in a prior blog post that can be read here), breastfeeding for more than 3 months will have a dramatic affect in your risk of developing diabetes later in life.
So, if you were diagnosed with gestational diabetes, did your obstetrician fully explain the risks that you face in the future?