Change ... Lisa Taylor took a crash course in nutrition after developing gestational diabetes.

Change ... Lisa Taylor took a crash course in nutrition after developing gestational diabetes. Photo: Jacky Ghossein

Lisa Taylor didn't fit the profile of a woman at risk of gestational diabetes. At 31, and pregnant with her son, Otis, she had a body mass index in the healthy weight range and no family history of the disease.

But pregnancy triggered a genetic predisposition to the condition.

You go through shock, disbelief; then you start feeling guilty, anxious and really, really stressed. 

"You go through shock, disbelief; then you start feeling guilty, anxious and really, really stressed," Ms Taylor said.

"You're told overnight you have to change your eating habits, you have to watch everything you eat, you have to test your blood four times a day, you have to exercise twice a day."

Women with gestational diabetes are more likely to have an overweight baby, and may be unable to give birth naturally. Children of women with gestational diabetes are more likely to be obese and develop Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease later in life.

But Ms Taylor said it was really the constant fear that her doctor would insist she start injecting insulin that kept her to a strict diet and exercise regimen.

"I was really focused on just getting to the next appointment," she said. "When you do [comprehend] towards the end of your pregnancy the implications for your child, that was another thing that kept me toeing the line."

Ms Taylor said being diagnosed with gestational diabetes "unmasks" a propensity to develop Type 2 diabetes later in life. There is a 50 per cent chance that she will develop the disease within 10 years of giving birth.

But Ms Taylor says in hindsight it was a blessing in disguise because it forced her to take a crash course in nutrition. She has also started a website gestationaldiabetesrecipes.com and is negotiating with the Royal Hospital for Women in Randwick to run an education class for women diagnosed with the disease.

Two-and-a-half years after Otis was born, Ms Taylor's family still eats a diabetes-friendly diet.

We are what our mothers eat

"A gestational diabetes diet is a nice medium,'' she said. ''You get a bit of everything and you're creating a varied meal on your plate. It's really eating for energy. It teaches you that the whole 'eating for two' when pregnant is a fallacy."