Gestational Diabetes and Your Pregnancy
Pregnant women often bemoan the less-than delicious oral glucose test taken between 24 and 28 weeks to check for gestational diabetes. Most, however, receive word that their pancreas is doing a good job of producing the extra insulin required to manage blood sugar during pregnancy. If you are among the 10 percent who receives a diagnosis of gestational diabetes, particularly if you didn’t have any warning signs or risk factors, you might be surprised and concerned about what’s to come.
First, recognize that gestational diabetes strikes women who are overweight, underweight and normal weight, women who exercise daily and not at all, women who have diabetes in the family and those who don’t. Let go of the temptation to blame yourself and focus instead on education. Gestational diabetes isn’t something you can sweep under the rug – it puts women at increased risk of preeclampsia, a dangerous condition, which typically requires immediate delivery, as well as preterm birth, higher baby birth weight, and potential health issues for mom and baby post-delivery.
“Learning how to test your blood sugar is an important step in taking charge of your health,” said Dr. Deb Krahl. “In addition to monitoring your blood sugar, paying attention to your diet and exercise and how you feel in general can make living with gestational diabetes for a few months that much easier.”
Typically, women test blood sugar first thing in the morning and about an hour after each meal. A diabetes educator will recommend the best diet for you, which will likely include a wealth of vegetables, whole grains, dairy products and protein. Low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, prenatal yoga and strength training can also help regulate blood sugar (and boost your mood!). Most women can manage the condition with diet and exercise, but some will still need to take insulin to lower blood sugar – insulin is safe for pregnant women.
“As with every pregnancy, take the time to take care of yourself and your baby. Get some fresh air and a good night’s sleep, enjoy the company of friends and family who build you up, and ask for help when you need it,” Dr. Krahl added.