You’re reading this because:
a.) You’ve been recently diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes and the management aspect of the disorder is still very vague to you
b.) You know someone who has it and want to help her out
c.) You have a just-in-case mentality, hence the need for gathering as much information as you can
d.) You’re bored – got nothing else to read
For whichever your reason may be reading up on Gestational Diabetes management, don’t you worry! We’ll walk you through what you need to know.
What it is
Gestational Diabetes is a condition of abnormal glucose metabolism during pregnancy. In the simplest of explanations: it is diabetes during pregnancy. It typically occurs midway through the pregnancy when insulin resistance is decreased.
What it’s not
Gestational Diabetes is not a death sentence. We understand the fear that comes with the condition because it is considered to be a serious complex disorder during pregnancy, but it is manageable.
What are the risk factors?
- Women over the age of 25
- History of diabetes in the family
- History of unexplained stillbirth or miscarriage
- History of large babies (babies who weigh 10 lbs or more)
- History of congenital anomalies in the past pregnancies
Gestational Diabetes Management
- Balanced Diet
Part of maintaining a balanced diet is ensuring adequate sugar intake. Women who are in the early stages of their pregnancy may struggle with this due to morning sickness. Their sugar intake is most likely inconsistent. Strictly adhering to a good, well-balanced diet is very important, nonetheless.
Usually, a 35 Kcal per kg of ideal weight is considered a good diet for those with gestational diabetes. So for example, your ideal weight is 65.90 kg (145 lb), your caloric intake should roughly be 2,306/day. Note: Let’s be clear on the ideal weight for a second. Your ideal weight is not what you want it to be; it is based on your height, age, and gender. Discuss your caloric intake with your doctor or nutritionist and ask for recommendations for maintaining a balanced diet at your next check-up.
Your total caloric intake should be divided into three meals and three snacks per day. This will help maintain a good level of sugar in your blood. Your diet should be high in fiber and should have a low amount of saturated fats and cholesterol. High fiber diet decreases the chance of hyperglycemia (elevated blood glucose level) after meal. Your diet should consist of 40% carbohydrate, 40% fat, and 12% protein.
Moderating sugar intake is key. Too much is not healthy, but also don’t completely deprive yourself of sugar. There is a condition called hypoglycemia where blood sugar levels drops at an alarming rate and result in potential issues for both the mother and the baby.
- Know and Understand Your Blood Sugar Level
Aside from doing the prick method – pricking your finger to get a blood sample, then placing a drop on the test strip before sticking it to a glucose meter – at home, those who have gestational diabetes should adhere to their scheduled medical check-ups for proper blood glucose monitoring. Your doctor may order an HbA1c or glycosylated hemoglobin test. Unlike the prick test (determines your blood sugar level at that specific time only), HbA1c will determine 4 to 6 weeks worth of blood sugar level prior to the test.
- Move Those Muscles
Exercise is known to be a good way to lower blood sugar level. The amount of sugar in the blood is decreased when muscles demand more sugar during exercise. This can last 12 hours after the woman has stopped exercising.
Take heed, though. Those who take insulin should be careful when overly exercising the arm or thigh in which they injected it. If this happens, the insulin will be released very quickly causing hypoglycemia. To avoid this, have a protein-filled snack prior to exercise.
A consistent light exercise routine such as 30 minutes of walking every day is substantial. For women with poor blood sugar control, heavy exercises can cause hyperglycemia and ketoacidosis because the liver breaks down fatty acid and releases glucose at the same time.
Alright SmartMoms, here’s the bottom line with Gestational Diabetes: with proper management and strict compliance, GD can be controlled and risk for a later recurrence as Type 2 Diabetes can be avoided. Determine your course of action when it comes to Gestational Diabetes management and stick to it. We know that you can do this better than anyone else. After all, you are a SmartMom!
Sources: Medical-Surgical Nursing by Donna D. Ignatavicius, MS, RN, ANEF and M. Linda Workman, PhD, RN, FAAN
Outline in Obstetrics by M.L.J Evangelista-Sia