Suffering from diabetes during pregnancy? Know how to manage it

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Sep 21, 2018
Quick Bites

  • Regular self -monitoring of blood sugar levels is needed
  • Pregnant women should eat healthy and nutritious foods
  • Avoid alcohol and smoking during pregnancy
  • Regular exercise improves the action of your body's insulin

Gestational diabetes in pregnant women increases the risk of complications at the time of the delivery. Such kind of a risk can be controlled by maintained blood sugar levels. Experts recommend that pregnant women should get tested for gestational diabetes irrespective of their age and other risk factors. The tests are done in the first and the second trimester of pregnancy. The doctor definitely recommends this to someone who at a high risk of gestational diabetes.

Also read: What is the Expected Duration of Gestational Diabetes?

Regular self-monitoring of blood sugar levels is required if someone is diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Monitoring blood sugar helps to determine if your exercise, eating patterns and insulin dose are maintaining your blood sugar levels.

Your doctor will ask you to maintain a daily food record and home sugar levels. A glucose meter is used to monitor blood sugar levels at home, which you can learn from your doctor. The doctor will also make changes in your treatment plan according to your meter readings. This is done to monitor blood sugar levels. Here is how you can manage your diabetes during pregnancy.

Eat your way to your health

All pregnant women should eat healthy and nutritious foods to meet her nutritional needs and the needs of the growing fetus. In addition, women with gestational diabetes should eat a proper diet to maintain normal blood sugar levels. In the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, the need for calories increases by 300 calories per day. So, if you were consuming 1500 calories per day and your weight is normal, a calorie intake of 1800 calories per day will be needed starting from 14 weeks until delivery.

Protein requirement increases in pregnant women. Eat a diet rich in proteins. The need for vitamins and minerals also increases during pregnancy. Ensure that your diet contains low-fat dairy products, whole grain cereals and bread, fruits and vegetables. Take supplements as prescribed by your doctor to get enough folate (B vitamin critical during pregnancy) and iron. Avoid foods that are rich in carbohydrate and sugar.

Eat foods that are rich in dietary fiber. Fiber is a part of plant food that is not digested (e.g., skins, membranes, seeds, bran). Whole grain cereals and bread, fruits, vegetables, and legumes (dried peas and beans) have high fiber content. Fiber helps to prevent a rapid increase in blood sugar levels and it may prevent the need for extra insulin as well.

Some other nutritional and non-nutritional considerations in pregnancy

Avoid alcohol, as there is no safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Excessive alcohol intake can result in severe defects in the development of the body and brain of the fetus. Take caffeine (found in coffee, tea, and some sodas) in moderation. Avoid smoking as smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of complications such as fetal death, pre-term delivery, impaired fetal growth, and low birth weight.

Moderate physical activity is key

Also read: Does Exercise Reduce Pregnancy Symptoms?

All pregnant women should have a daily exercise program as it is essential for a healthy pregnancy. If you have gestational diabetes, exercise is especially important. Regular exercise improves the body’s insulin levels. It may help to keep your blood sugar levels in the normal range while using less insulin. Exercise also keeps your weight in control.

Maintain your weight

Weight gain in pregnancy is a common concern. Women with gestational diabetes should be extra careful during pregnancy. The weight you gain during pregnancy should be gained at a slow pace. Your weight gain is a clear indication of the nutrition available for the growth of your baby.  

Pregnancy is divided into three trimesters—first, second and third trimester. The duration of each trimester is 3 months or approximately 13 weeks. Most women on an average gain of 10–12kg. Recommended total weight gain depends on your body weight before pregnancy.

If your weight gain is not adequate it may result in a small baby. Low birth weight babies are more prone to illness during the first year of life. An excessive weight gain during pregnancy can result in high blood sugar levels, insulin resistance and poor control of your blood sugar levels.

Keeping daily records of diet, physical activity and glucose levels

If you have gestational diabetes, your health care providers will want to monitor your day-to-day blood sugar levels. Controlled blood sugar reduces this risk of problems in the baby and mother. Your doctor will advise you to keep a record of your daily diet, exercise and blood sugar levels.

Glucose monitoring

Also read: How to Monitor Diabetes at Home

As your pregnancy advances, more hormones that affect the function of insulin are released by the placenta. Testing your blood sugar level before and after meals daily helps to determine if your diet and weight gain are enough to keep blood sugar levels under control or if insulin is needed to keep the blood sugar levels to normal and the fetus protected.

Self-blood glucose monitoring is done at home with glucose meter using a drop of your blood. Your doctor can teach you how to use the glucose meter. Follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding blood sugar monitoring and recording. You may need to test your blood several times a day like the fasting sugar (first thing in the morning before you eat) and 2 hours after each meal, or more frequently during the day or at night. Record your sugar readings regularly as these can help your doctor to determine if your treatment for blood sugar control is adequate.

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