Managing Gestational Diabetes
By Rebecca Pillar
Most women find that as soon as they find out they are pregnant, they start watching everything they put into their body. They drink more water, make healthier food choices and just overall take better care of themselves. Depending on your doctor or midwife, somewhere between 12 and 20 weeks gestation, you’re probably going to be encouraged to consent to a few prenatal tests. Aside from several STD screenings and testing for birth defects, there is one test that is particularly important to both the health of mom and baby.
The test being referred to here, the glucose tolerance test, is testing mom for gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a condition in which mom has not been diagnosed with diabetes prior to pregnancy, but has now developed high blood sugar levels during pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes is considered one of the most common pregnancy complications. Gestational diabetes also presents no symptoms with most women thus making testing so important. Most incidences of gestational diabetes can be controlled with a modified diet and exercise. Letting gestational diabetes progress uncontrolled increases risks for growth and hormonal abnormalities in newborns.
Women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes also have an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in the future.
In this article you will find tips and advice to help you manage your gestational diabetes.
Carbohydrates in the food you eat turns into glucose within your body. Glucose is an important source of energy for your cells. In a person without diabetes, the pancreas reacts to increased blood glucose levels and produces insulin to lower the levels. When you have gestational diabetes, your pancreas may be working hard to lower glucose levels and you develop insulin resistance or your pancreas might not be making enough insulin. The end result in both scenarios is too much glucose in the blood stream.
Gestational diabetes maintenance requires some planning and discipline. You’re already aware of the foods you eat; this plan just requires you to take it one step further.
Since Carbohydrates are the main source of glucose, you’re going to have to become more aware of exactly how many carbohydrates you are eating. This is sometimes referred to as “Carbohydrate Counting.” One serving of a carbohydrate rich food contains approximately 12-15 grams of carbohydrates.
It will be important for you to try and eat the same amount of carbohydrates each day, at the same times each day. This means you should try to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with snacks in between, at the same time every day. It’s also important to remember to eat a snack before bed to prevent blood glucose levels from dropping too low while you sleep.
Exercise and weight should be discussed with your doctor. It is important to remember that exercise and activity helps lower your blood glucose levels but your current weight and health status is unique to you.
Most pregnant women require an additional 300 calories or so per day, especially during the 2nd and 3rd trimester. This, again, varies from women to women. Total daily calories depend on your current status and pre-pregnancy weight.
There is no exact amount of total carbohydrates to eat per meal/snack unless your doctor/dietician provides you with one based on your current status.