What is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a condition where the body is unable to make enough insulin during pregnancy. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas, and it acts like a key to let blood sugar into the body for use as energy. The hormonal and metabolic changes can lead the cells to use insulin less effectively, which is a condition called insulin resistance. Most pregnant women have some insulin resistance during late pregnancy. However, some women may start pregnancy with an increased need for insulin and may be more likely to develop gestational diabetes. In many cases, women are unaware that they are living with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes prior to pregnancy and then develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes can cause pregnancy-related complications in the baby including excess birth weight, underdeveloped lungs, stillbirth, postpartum hypoglycemia, and maternal preeclampsia. Gestational diabetes is temporary, treatable, results in a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, and resolves after childbirth.
Risk factors that can lead to Gestational diabetes include:
- Being obese during this pregnancy or before becoming pregnant
- Having a history of gestational diabetes
- Delivering a child in a previous pregnancy that weighed more than nine pounds
- Having a personal history of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or any other health condition that can lead to fluctuations in insulin
- Having gestational diabetes in a prior pregnancy
- Family history of diabetes mellitus
- Low physical activity
- Having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, or other medical complications
Tips to manage Gestational Diabetes – To promote a healthy pregnancy and avoid any risks to your baby, making healthy choices are of utmost necessity.
Get a diet chart from a nutritionist to ensure that it is tailored to your specific condition and health. This includes getting the right balance of carbohydrates to give you the energy and glucose you need but in excess that it throws your blood sugar off balance. Consume more fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your daily diet. Carbohydrates are an important part of your gestational diabetes diet as they are fuel for your body and for your growing baby. It is necessary to have more carbs through lunch and dinner as Pregnancy hormones can make it hard to control morning blood sugar. Eating a wide variety of foods rich in fibre and low in fat and calories such as whole grains, fruits (with the skin on), vegetables, and dairy products, will give you the carbs you need. High-fibre foods will help keep your blood sugar more even and help you feel full longer as well.
If you are with gestational diabetes, being active is a must. Regular exercise before and during pregnancy can prevent the risk of developing gestational diabetes. Regular exercise keeps you fit and may help to improve glucose metabolism. Engage in physical activities such as walking, swimming, or joining an aerobics class. Being physically active helps your body better regulate the insulin output and, in turn, your blood sugar levels. But at the same time, don’t opt for heavy exercise as this can have the opposite effect. Instead of grasping for air, if you can talk easily while doing an activity then your level of exertion is good. You need to ease back and moderate the exercise you are doing. Do exercises that won’t put you at risk. At least 30 minutes of moderate activity daily along with a brisk walk, can help improve a lot.
During pregnancy, you need to restrict yourself from gaining more than the recommended weight. Gaining some weight during pregnancy is normal and healthy. But too much weight gain can develop the risk of gestational diabetes. One should consult a doctor to know how much weight one should gain for a healthy pregnancy, depending on one’s weight at the time of conception and the height.
Check Blood Sugar level
To maintain control over your blood sugar and depending on what the doctor says, you need to check your blood sugar level five times per day. Moreover, by keeping track of your blood sugar in a journal, you can begin to get a grasp on how certain foods or activities affect your blood sugar and accordingly make adjustments to keep yourself on target.
Do take medication
Some women with gestational diabetes will need to take insulin to help control their blood sugar. Even if you do everything your doctor tells you, you may still need to take insulin during pregnancy. This doesn’t risk the baby of greater complications, it simply suggests that extra steps need to be taken to prevent fluctuations that neither diet nor exercise can fully control.