Let’s put you at ease first. If you have gestational diabetes, you can still have a safe pregnancy. While any pregnancy complication is alarming, gestational diabetes can be controlled by eating right, exercising, and taking medication as prescribed by your doctor.
What is gestational diabetes (GD)?
Gestational diabetes occurs only during pregnancy. It occurs due to increased levels of sugar in the blood, which the insulin (the hormone that converts sugar into energy) cannot handle. This causes the blood sugar levels to rise. Pregnancy is a ‘stress situation’ for the body and some women’s systems are unable to cope with this ‘stress’ due to which hormonal changes occur and diabetes develops. It is usually temporary and lasts only during pregnancy condition. However, if not well controlled during pregnancy, it can lead to permanent diabetes that would need to be managed for life. Gestational diabetes if not well controlled can also cause a ‘large’ for birth baby with very high birth weights that may risk birthing complications and increase the risk of the baby developing diabetes later on.
Who is more likely to be at risk for GD?
Pregnant women are at risk for GD if they:
- are overweight and/or older in age when they conceive
- have a history of diabetes in the family
- have had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
- are diabetic before the start of pregnancy
What are the symptoms of GD?
While most symptoms of GD mimic those of a normal pregnancy, pregnant women should bring to the notice of their doctor if any of these symptoms are persistent and you aren’t sure why they continue to persist.
- Frequent urination
How is GD treated?
Consult with your doctor to plan a routine that is right for you (and your baby).
- Monitor blood sugar levels through the day. Your doctor will recommend the number of times you need to check your blood sugar levels, in order to see how your body handles sugar at different points during the day.
- Stay active. With your doctor’s recommendation, choose low impact exercises. A simple 15-minute walk daily is a good way to start.
- Make dietary and lifestyle changes. For instance,
- Don’t skip meals. This will help your blood sugar levels remain more stable as the food will be evenly distributed through the day.
- Follow the diet provided by the dietitian and reduce your carbs intake.
- Have a protein-rich diet. Protein-rich foods boost energy and give better blood sugar control.
- Eat a good breakfast, which is low on carbs and high on protein.
- Include high-fibre snack foods like veggies, fruits, whole grains, cereals every 4 hours between meals.
Cool nerves and presence of mind help you tackle a situation as this and of course, the impending birth of your baby.