Developing gestational diabetes during a pregnancy presents many challenges for both mother and baby. If left untreated, it can cause babies to be born that are large. Babies can have hypoglycemia when born. Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes can have higher occurrences of jaundice or respiratory distress syndrome. Women have a greater chance of developing pre-eclampsia and early delivery. A woman who endures gestational diabetes has a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes later on.
If caught early, managing gestational diabetes isn’t difficult and can reduce the chances of complications for mother and child. It does require commitment and diligence. Eating right, watching the intake of carbohydrates, drinking plenty of water and getting regular exercise can help keep blood sugar in a safe range.
Monitor blood sugar
The only way to know how food affects the blood sugar is to carefully monitor it with a glucose test kit. Keep a food journal, indicating what time a meal was consumed, exactly what foods were eaten and the size of the portions. Testing is to be done first thing in the morning before breakfast and one to two hours after each meal.
The health care provider will give instructions on when he or she would like the testing to occur and where the individual’s blood sugar should be at any given time. Write down when the testing took place and what number was indicated. Also, record periods of exercise on the food journal, as well. Bring the journal to prenatal visits so the physician can get a clear picture of how the body is responding to certain foods. She may have you change portion sizes or have you add or eliminate certain foods.
Portion control is a big part of gestational diabetes management. The bigger the portions, the more time it takes the body to process the meal, which keeps the blood sugar at higher levels for longer periods of time. Remember, the baby experiences what the mother does, so having high blood sugar affects the baby, as well.
It’s best to spread meals out throughout the day so that three or four meals and three snacks are eaten every day. This helps keep the blood sugar stabilized and keeps the mother feeling full so she’s less likely to eat unhealthy foods. Drinking at least eight cups of water, preferably more, is necessary to keep hydrated, as well as to flush excess sugar out of the body.
Carbohydrates are nutrients in foods that are converted to simple sugars such as glucose, to be used as energy. When too many carbohydrates are consumed during a meal, the blood sugar raises drastically. Limiting the amount of carbohydrates limits how drastically the blood sugar raises, keeping it more stable. In most situations, a physician will refer a patient to a dietitian to be evaluated. The Mayo Clinic says, “You may want to consult a registered dietitian or a diabetes educator to create a meal plan based on your current weight, pregnancy weight gain goals, blood sugar level, exercise habits, food preferences and budget.” Together, a diet will be formed based on how many carbohydrates the expecting mother can consume at each meal.
When choosing a meal, thought needs to be given to the amount of carbohydrates, staying within the limitations placed by the dietitian or physician. If issues arise where the amount appears to be too low, this can be adjusted at the next visit. Having gestational diabetes doesn’t usually mean giving up everything that tastes good. Rather, it’s limiting how much of a good thing while planning when to have it. The body is more tolerant of carbohydrates during some portions of the day, and less tolerant during other times.
Protein is extremely important to gestational diabetes. Each meal and snack should contain equal amounts of proteins and carbohydrates. Some dietitians even recommend two portions of proteins to one portion of carbohydrates, depending on how the patient’s body is responding. The source of protein is important, also. Proteins with a high fat content should be avoided when possible.
Many women find that exercising for 10-15 minutes after a meal can lower the blood sugar quickly. This can be accomplished by walking through the house doing chores or chasing after children. Regular exercise throughout the day give a boost to energy levels and also keeps the joints and muscles moving, aiding in delivery later on.
Sometimes, diet and exercise aren’t enough to keep the blood sugar stabilized during pregnancy. When this happens, the mother needs to take insulin injections. Unfortunately, insulin pills are not advisable for pregnant women. According to gestationaldiabetes, “Too much of the medicine can enter the bloodstream of the infant and blood sugar levels will drop dangerously low.”
Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes can be frightening for an expecting mother. However, it is possible to manage this disease with the guidance of her physician and a little effort. Choosing meals carefully will mean the difference between a healthy pregnancy, or one with possible complications. Consuming a diet designed for gestational diabetes is the healthiest diet any mother could utilize. Once she has become used to the meal planning, what she learned could be put into action even after the baby has arrived.