How Can I Prevent Gestational Diabetes (GDM)?

Dr.Siva Kalyani Jyotula
MBBS, MD, DM (Endocrinology)

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is diabetes that occurs in women during pregnancy. Due to hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, there is an increase in demand for insulin.

Gestational diabetes occurs when there is increased resistance to insulin that cannot be compensated by the insulin produced. This fails to maintain normal blood glucose levels resulting in hyperglycemia.

prevent gestational diabetes

Risk factors for Gestational Diabetes:

  • Excess weight and lack of physical activity
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome/ disease (PCOS/ PCOD)
  • Previous history of GDM or prediabetes
  • Previously having a baby with birth weight >4 kg
  • Family history of diabetes

Effects of gestational diabetes

On Mother:

  • Increased incidence of high blood pressure and preeclampsia during pregnancy
  • Increased rate of cesarean delivery
  • Increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by > 3 fold in the next 5-10 years

On Baby:

  • Increased risk of birth complications (preterm birth, excessive birth weight, hypoglycemia after birth and respiratory complications in the newborn period)
  • Higher incidence of obesity and diabetes in children born to mothers with gestational diabetes

Can gestational diabetes be prevented?

The risk of Gestational diabetes can be reduced through lifestyle modifications but cannot be prevented entirely regardless of how healthy the lifestyle is.

What to be done?

Before pregnancy:

  • Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight before planning pregnancy helps in reducing the risk of gestational diabetes.
  • The women who are overweight should focus on losing extra weight and maintaining it by making lasting changes in diet as well as physical activity.

During pregnancy:

Weight gain

  • Some amount of weight gain is expected among all women during pregnancy, but gaining too much weight rapidly can increase the risk of gestational diabetes.
  • Overweight and obese women should gain less weight compared to normal or underweight women.
  • Your doctor will advise recommended weight gain (based on pre-pregnancy Body Mass Index) during pregnancy.


  • A healthy diet that includes good portions of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains should be followed.
  • Foods high in fiber and low in fat and calories should be chosen based on individual choice and accessibility.


  • Physical activity during pregnancy helps prevent excess weight gain and makes the body more sensitive to insulin.
  • Moderate exercise for 30 min daily is advised, and exercises that are safe during pregnancy like walking, swimming, etc. should be chosen.
  • We should check with the consulting doctor before starting any exercise program.