A recent study by the Division of Research at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California, shows increasing evidence that women who gain weight after their first pregnancy are at an increased risk for developing pregnancy-related diabetes, which is also known as gestational diabetes, during their second pregnancy. The study also found that if the women lost the baby weight after having their first child, the risk for developing gestational diabetes during their second pregnancy was significantly lowered.
The study revealed that women who gain between 12 and 17 pounds after giving birth are two times as likely to develop diabetes during their second pregnancy, and women who gain 18 pounds or more are at least three times as likely to develop the disease.
“A lot of people have shown that lifestyle intervention to help people lose weight can delay the onset of type 2 diabetes,” shared lead author on the study Samantha Ehrlich. “We acknowledge that this is not an easy thing to do. It is quite common for women to gain weight during pregnancy.”
Gestational diabetes currently affects around four percent of all pregnant women according to Ehrlich, who evaluated the medical records of 22,000 women that span a ten-year time period. The study monitored body mass index (BMI) and used a ratio of height to weight to accurately monitor problematic weight gain. Less than 10 percent of women who participated in the study lost weight between pregnancies, and most cited the typical stresses of new motherhood as their main reason for not shedding the pounds.
The women all used the Kaiser Permanente facilities for two pregnancies, and roughly 46 out of every 1,000 women were found to develop gestational diabetes during their first pregnancy, while 52 out of every 1,000 were found to develop it during their second. Also of note, 18 out of every 1,000 women were affected with the disease during both their first and second pregnancies.
Since having a baby is definitely stressful, it can bring with it a variety of changes to eating and sleeping patterns, as well as exercise habits and the balance of work to family life. Interestingly, the study revealed that women who opted to breast feed for at least six months following the birth of a child were more likely to shed excess pounds. In addition, walking and keeping snaking to a minimum were the secrets to success for new moms who were able to maintain a healthy weight during and between pregnancies.
To help combat this problem, Ehrlich is currently working out the details of a weight loss program that is geared towards assisting women with infants who want to lose weight. The program incorporates telephone coaching as well as exercise and diet help.
“We believe that something that is based on the telephone or a website would be easier for new moms to do than having to go somewhere for classes,” she shared.
Regardless, the study findings demonstrate just how important it is for women to maintain a healthy weight during and after pregnancy. Gestational diabetes often goes away after the baby is born, but it can lead to birth complications and other health-related issues for the mother.