So you’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. This diagnosis might conjure up many emotions: fear, sadness, and confusion. But not to fear, there are ways to manage it and make this time more comfortable and safer for you and your baby.
What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is diagnosed during pregnancy through a glucose test given by your doctor between your 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. Like type 1 and type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes causes blood sugar levels to become too high.
When you’re pregnant, your body naturally becomes more resistant to insulin so that more glucose is available to nourish your baby. For most moms-to-be, this isn’t a problem. When the body needs additional insulin to process excess glucose in blood, the pancreas secretes more.
But if the pancreas can’t keep up with the increased demand for insulin during pregnancy, blood sugar levels rise too high because the cells aren’t using the glucose. This results in gestational diabetes.
Unlike other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes isn’t permanent. Once the baby is born, your blood sugar will most likely return to normal. However, having gestational diabetes does make developing diabetes in the future more likely. It can also lead to complications in birth, a very large baby, and health problems in your baby.
Here are the top dos and don’ts while you are going through gestational diabetes.
- Drink sodas or juice. These drinks have little nutritional value and are chock-full of sugar.
- Eat carb-heavy white foods like bread, pizza, and bagels. These high-carb options are sure to spike your blood sugar. It’s safest to avoid these and fill up on veggies, lean meats, and whole grains.
- Eat cereal or processed foods. These foods are unpredictable and can make blood sugar levels spike. Stick to whole, unprocessed foods rich in protein and fiber.
- Worry about your next glucose test. You aren’t likely to be able to change the result by not eating the day of your test. Take the test and then get the correct treatment if you do have gestational diabetes.
- Blame yourself. Your gestational diabetes is not your fault. It could be due to hormone changes, twin pregnancy, high BMI, or a family history of diabetes.
- See a diabetes educator and learn how to check your blood sugar levels. This might be scary at first, but keeping track of your blood sugar will make sure that you don’t have a dangerous high or low.
- Take a daily walk for exercise. Move each day to keep your blood flowing and stay fit and manage blood sugar levels.
- Find support groups, either locally or online. There are many support groups, either through your local hospitals or online. Here you can talk with others in your same position and get advice on what to eat.
- Keep a daily food journal. Keeping track of what you eat will let you stay on top of what foods make your levels go out of whack and make you feel terrible. You can also keep a note of the foods that give you energy and keep you going.
- Eat a diet high in protein, veggies, and fiber. Stay on a healthy, balanced diet to maintain the health of both you and your baby.
If your blood glucose levels are very high, your doctors might temporarily prescribe insulin or metformin as medications to help. After you give birth, the diabetes should go away.
It’s highly recommended to breastfeed after gestational diabetes, as it can help you control your weight and better your baby’s health. You should continue to get tested for diabetes annually, and maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen after giving birth.