The After Effects of Gestational Diabetes

The After Effects of Gestational Diabetes

after gestational diabetesIf there is one thing a pregnant woman knows how to do well, it is worry. Women going through their pregnancies with the added stress of gestational diabetes can sometimes feel this even more so. There are so many questions, worries, and added concerns to think about. One common question about gestational diabetes is how or if it will affect you and your child after the baby is born.

Understanding Gestational Diabetes

The first thing to consider when answering this question is to understand what gestational diabetes is. Gestational diabetes is, in its simplest form, high blood sugar during pregnancy. Basically, hormones in your body cause the pancreas to produce extra insulin, but the insulin produced does not help to lower your glucose levels as it is supposed to do. [Read more…]

What Is An OGTT or a 3 Hour Glucose Tolerance Test?

What Is An OGTT or a 3 Hour Glucose Tolerance Test?

English: Photograph of abdomen of a pregnant woman

English: Photograph of abdomen of a pregnant woman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3 Hour Glucose Tolerance Test Is the Gold Standard

OGTT is an oral glucose tolerance test.  For most women, around week 24-28, they do a 1 hour glucose test in the doctor’s office.  Now, if you had gestational diabetes with an earlier pregnancy or your risk factors are high, you might get tested earlier in your pregnancy, and your doctor might go straight to the 3 hour glucose tolerance test.

The doctor is doing a quick check to see if you need to take the 3 hour glucose tolerance test.  So, if you fail the 1 hour test, they send you for an OGTT.  OGTT is the standard to measure and diagnose you with gestational diabetes.  This test also tells your doctor how “bad” your gestational diabetes is.  So, he/she will know if you are going way high or just a little over.  That information may or may not affect their decision about medication and diet.

So, you arrive at the lab for your 3 hour glucose tolerance test.  You will sit in the lab waiting area for a little over 3 hours so bring something to read or write to keep you busy.  It’s a lonely place and the only thing on the TV’s is the news or Jerry Springer.  Not much fun.  Trust me, you will need something in addition to the 3 year old magazines they have in the lobby.

You come in fasting, not having eaten anything after midnight the night before.  You may or may not be able to drink water.  If you can, drink water so that your blood is easier to draw.  The last thing you want is to be dehydrated and not be able to get blood or take forever.  They take your blood sugar level first as a fasting level for the baseline of the 3 hour glucose tolerance test, then you drink a “glucola” which is a concentrated sugary drink.  (I would say it tastes like coke, but it doesn’t.) It’s pretty sugary, and there may or may not be flavor options.  Then in 1 hour increments they take a sample of your blood to measure.  Otherwise, you sit in the waiting area between blood draws for the 3 hour glucose tolerance test.

Then What Happens?

Once it’s over, you leave and your doctor gets the results fairly quickly.  Then you find out if your body has done a good job of removing the sugar from your blood stream or not.  Some women view it initially as a judgement and feel that they have done something wrong.  You should know that it’s just the hormones and your body is not handling the amount of hormones well, but that does not make you a good or a bad person.

Either way, you will be fine and so will your baby.  Gestational diabetes is very treatable with diet, exercise and sometimes medication.  Read about gestational diabetes meal planning in my recently published book on amazon, and find out how to plan your day to make your pregnancy healthier and happier.

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Medical Costs For Gestational Diabetes Higher, But At What Price?

I came across a recently released study today, and I was shocked to find out:

From the sample of 4,372 women, those with a diagnosis of GDM were almost twice as likely to undergo an emergency caesarean section, and their infants were three times more likely to be admitted to a neonatal unit. The resulting maternity care costs, specifically calculated by sampling patients from the public healthcare system, were increased by 34%.Of the other variables included in the analysis, maternal obesity was found to increase costs by 21%.

“Aside from the serious health implications, GDM is also placing a substantial economic burden on maternity care costs. This burden is likely to rise in the future if current practices remain unchanged given projected increases in GDM prevalence rates. However, what our study really highlights are the potential cost savings which may go to offset the costs of interventions that aim to prevent the onset of GDM in pregnancy,” explains Dr Paddy Gillespie, from the School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway.

http://www.healthcanal.com/pregnancy-childbirth/35205-Maternity-Care-Costs-for-Pregnant-Women-with-Gestational-Diabetes-are-Higher.html

Wow!  Obesity and gestational diabetes – two words I don’t want to hear as a mom-to-be.  But, when you look further into this study, you see it says that the costs can be reduced by the additional testing that is being required by our (US) new health care laws.  By the requirement to test all moms for gestational diabetes, we find out sooner that they have or don’t have the disease.

If you know you have gestational diabetes, you are going to do what you need to do to get your baby and you through the pregnancy in a healthy way.  You will probably buy my book on gestational diabetes meal planning: Gestational Diabetes Diet Meal Plan and Recipes: Your Guide To Controlling Blood Sugars & Weight Gain

That book is really helpful, by the way.  But many women find out too late that they have gestational diabetes because they don’t get tested.  Then the baby ends up too big, mom gains a lot of weight, and they have an emergency c-section.  Not fun.  So, embrace the idea that knowing is half the battle, and I congratulate you on finding out more information so you are best equipped to deal with this disease.

Learn more by signing up for the mailing list in the box below:

I Have Gestational Diabetes, When Will The Doctor Put Me On Insulin?

You May Be Wondering If You Will Need Insulin

One question that routinely pops up if an expectant mother has gestational diabetes, is at which stage of the pregnancy should insulin become a part of the medication prescribed. Most doctors prefer to treat patients the ‘natural’ way that is by altering the patient’s diet and encouraging a stricter exercise regime which could be beneficial in keeping excess weight off in addition to stabilizing sugar levels in the blood. If you face a similar problem of high blood sugar levels, it is quite possible that your doctor will conduct routine blood tests every few weeks or so, to test the effectiveness of the diet and exercise combination. In most cases, sugar levels can be brought under control and extra insulin shots are not necessary, but if your doctor advises it, just remember that it is these shots which can help to prevent further pregnancy complications.  This usually happens after 1-2 months of trying diet and exercise, but it depends on your doctor’s practice.

What Is Insulin Used For In Gestational Diabetes?

Insulin is an important hormone that is secreted by the pancreas and which enables the conversion of glucose absorbed from food into energy. Sometimes, a pregnant mother may not even be aware that she has untreated gestational diabetes and in such cases, the pancreas works even harder to meet the body’s insulin requirement. However in such circumstances, there is also a chance that existing glucose levels in the mother’s blood can reach the baby through the placenta, which in turn forces the baby’s pancreas to product extra insulin for faster energy conversion. Extra glucose is then stored as fat and in many cases, such babies are later born with health problems including trouble in breathing properly.

What are insulin shots for gestational diabetes?

After conducting a thorough analysis of your blood test and sugar levels, your doctor will suggest the right type of insulin and the dosage to take. Insulin shots can either be rapid acting insulin or long acting insulin and usually U-100 is prescribed unless a patient requires a higher concentrated dose. You’ll find that insulin is packed in small glass bottles sealed with a rubber lid or in pen like cartridges which are stored in pharmacies at cooler temperatures. Insulin can be administered as an injection in the arm or thigh, given through a pump or by a jet indicator which sprays the insulin directly on the skin. Oral insulin medication is usually not advised for pregnant women.

Insulin pen needle

Insulin pen needle (Photo credit: Aki Hänninen)

Self-administration of insulin may take plenty of practice but it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions properly. And it doesn’t hurt to let your doctor know if you have a fear of needles either! Hundreds of women all over the world take insulin shots to prevent the possibility of complications in the baby and also to reduce weight gain in the baby and the mother from continually high blood sugars. But remember- even if you are advised to take insulin shots, it’s still important to take care of yourself by following a healthy diet and getting your daily dose of exercise. Although you may find self-injection uncomfortable and even painful, it will all be worth it in the end when you hold your healthy newborn in your arms!

Let me know if you have been told you will need insulin shots, and how you feel about it!  You will get some training from the nurse and doctors about the best way to administer a shot but you will have to get over the poking yourself issue.  You may already be over that with the 4 times daily blood sugar checks, though, and your insulin needle is very small – many women state it doesn’t hurt much at all.

Speaking of being on a gestational diabetic diet to control your blood sugars in conjunction with exercise and other medications – click here to get our book with meal plans and other great information about gestational diabetes.  The book is on amazon, and it’s a great resource with meal patterns and recipes for you.

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Signs Of Gestational Diabetes: How Do I Know?

Signs Of Gestational Diabetes: How Do I Know?

What Are The Signs Of Gestational Diabetes?

During a normal pregnancy, after a woman eats, the food is broken down in the digestive tract and releases protein, fats and sugars.  Then, with the help of insulin your body produces, the glucose enters the blood stream and is used by the cells as fuel. Unfortunately, sometimes in pregnancy the hormonal changes make the cells less responsive to the insulin.  When the body can’t keep up with the increased amount of insulin, the glucose level in the blood gets too high resulting in you seeing signs of gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that either starts during a pregnancy or is first diagnosed during pregnancy.

Signs Of Gestational Diabetes Are Sometimes Called Symptoms

Generally if a pregnant woman has symptoms, they are not life threatening. However, if a pregnant woman does have symptoms she should advise her doctor. Some symptoms include blurred vision, increased thirst and weight loss.

During pregnancy, it’s common for an expectant mom to feel fatigue because of her body is continuing changing to nourish the growing fetus. However, the fatigue could also be a sign that her body not metabolizing sugar properly. That is a major indicator of gestational diabetes. It’s also common for a pregnant women to get a skin, bladder or vaginal infection because of the changing hormones. However, constant reoccurring infections is a sign of gestational diabetes and should be discussed with a doctor.

The good news is that for most women, signs and symptoms of gestational diabetes disappear after giving birth.

Signs Of Gestational Diabetes Are Confirmed With A Test

As part of routine tests, pregnant women will receive an blood test between week 24 and week 28. Higher risk women are tested earlier. One hour before the blood is drawn, the mother is given a sweet drink.  If the blood has a high sugar content when it is drawn, it may indicate that your body is not processing sugar as it should. After a positive test, the doctor will order a glucose tolerance test to measure the baseline and over 3 hours of fasting blood glucose levels.   Once the condition is confirmed, in addition to the doctor’s office, expectant mothers can monitor their condition at home using a glucose monitoring machine.

Treatment For Gestational Diabetes

Diet and exercise are the best methods to treat this condition. Together they will help keep the blood sugar level within an acceptable range. It’s important to read food labels and eat a variety of healthy foods. The diet should be moderate in protein and moderate in fat. High-sugar foods, pastries, fruit juices and soft drink should be used sparingly.  Using a gestational diabetes meal plan is the best choice for your ease and your health.  Learn more about our meal planning solution on this page.

All carbohydrates should come through complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables. Complex carbohydrates are found in foods such as rice, pasta, bread and cereal. In rare cases when diet and exercise is not enough to control the blood sugar level, the doctor will prescribe oral diabetes medicine or insulin therapy.

Gestational Diabetes – How Often Should I Check My Blood Sugars?

Gestational Diabetes – How Often Should I Check My Blood Sugars?

fingerstick diabetesYou know you have to check them, right?  I read a Facebook post yesterday where a woman wrote that she was afraid to check them.

Let’s think about that, shall we?  I mean, I am afraid of a lot of things.  Data is not one of them.  And, that is what you are gathering.

It might feel like a judgement against you, especially if you have not been following a healthy gestational diabetes meal plan.  If you have been snacking too much, or eating too big of portions.  But the damage is already done and you are already making it worse by ignoring it.  Sticking your head in the sand doesn’t make it any better.  Face up to it.

Ok, now that I have that off my chest, I want to talk about how often to check your blood sugars.

First of all, make sure you know what your doctor or dietitian wants you to do.  Best practice in the beginning when you are still learning – and if you have to take insulin – is 4 times a day.

When you wake up

One hour after you start eating breakfast

One hour after you start eating lunch

One hour after you start eating supper

*Any time you feel “funny” or different.

You need to check your blood sugar at least once a day after you are past the early stages and are well balanced.  If your doctor wants more – do it.  If you end up checking it once per day, vary the time that you check it so you get a good idea of where it’s at throughout the day.  Our bodies handle sugar and insulin different depending on a lot of things.  Best that you understand your body, because it’s different than other pregnant and gestational diabetic women.

In the morning, you may have what is called a “dawn phenomenon“.

Basically,it’s that your blood sugar is higher than normal because your body (in the middle of the night) gets a little low on blood sugar so it reacts by making more blood sugar.  Add that to the fact that you may be low on insulin, and it’s going to be a little elevated.  Many women counter this by eating a little larger evening snack and making sure it has a combination of protein and carbohydrate.  That way it takes longer to digest, and gives your body carbohydrate throughout the night.  It’s not a good idea to counter the higher blood sugars by skipping a bedtime snack.

Most women are taught to measure their blood sugars about one hour after they start eating, also known as “post prandial”.  This is the time when your blood sugar is likely to have peaked and should be below 140 mg/dl.  If it’s higher than that, look at the meal and see where the carbohydrate is lurking.  Earlier this week I wrote about a gestational diabetes meal plan for a week, and I know it’s hard to understand that a lot of foods have carbohydrate in them.

Ask your doctor how you should treat your blood sugar numbers – the answer may be that it depends…  Either way, you have to check them.  Not checking them is putting your baby at higher risk, and you as well.  It’s just information that you can use to make a decision about how to treat your blood sugar levels.  That’s it, that’s all, and you need to track them throughout the day.

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Getting Started with Gestational Diabetes – A One Week Plan

A kit used by a woman with gestational diabetes.

A kit used by a woman with gestational diabetes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you need a gestational diabetes meal plan for one week?  Did you just fail your 1 hour GTT or 3 hour GTT?  Let me explain to you what you can do…

What sort of meal plan do I need with gestational diabetes?

First of all, a meal plan is a great place to start.  I am glad that you are here and trying to learn more about gestational diabetes.  It’s a short term condition, and if you are like me, you will be fine with doing whatever it takes to make sure the baby is healthy!

So, to begin with, you need to plan out your day.  Start with learning what is a carbohydrate.  You can read the labels on your foods, and if you look towards the middle to bottom of a label, it tells you “Total Carbohydrate” (per serving).  This is the amount of carbohydrate – and carbohydrate is what increases your blood sugar.  You want to start out with eating only 30 – 45 grams per meal.  If you are having a hard time keeping your blood sugars under control, aim for the lower amount.  So plan out what you will eat at each meal that is carbohydrate.  Then add in the fat and proteins.  You can have extra on the protein and fat, and it won’t affect your blood sugar too much.  So, pick a slice or two of whole grain bread – then add vegetables and meat and make a big sandwich.  Eat some carrots with it, or a salad with just a light dressing.  Have a cheese stick or cottage cheese or other snack throughout the day.

What sort of options do I have with gestational diabetes meal plans?

Secondly, you can choose multiple items in each category to make a great meal.  Start your breakfast with eggs and bacon and an english muffin.  No juice or fruit for breakfast – they seem to spike gestational diabetes moms really fast especially in the morning.  For lunch, choose a tortilla to wrap some lunch meat and vegetables in – or go with rice and beans – but just a light serving and add lots of green and yellow vegetables to fill you up.  Again, you should aim for 30-45 gm of carbohydrate at a meal to begin with.  If you do ok with that, and you are checking your blood sugars regularly, you may be able to eat a bit more.  But you probably want to consider adding more protein and fat foods – like peanut butter on celery for a snack.

In the evening – you should aim for 3 meals and 3 snacks, you can eat a combo carbohydrate – some women love a small serving of peanut butter and crackers, others love 1/2 cup of regular ice cream.  The fat seems to help with their blood sugars in the morning.  All snacks should be about 15 grams of carbohydrate per session.

What will help me to succeed with a gestational diabetes pregnancy?

Finally, it’s important to manage your carbohydrate!  Most of all, you can eat a lot of things, but always combine your carbohydrate with another type of food – fat or protein – to reduce it’s immediate effect on blood sugar.  You will learn that almost all the foods you love have carbohydrate in them.  That does not mean that you can’t eat them, it just means that you need to be aware of the amount that you eat of them.

It’s a short term problem, and managing it during that time can be hard.  If you want a printed meal pattern for different calorie levels, complete with breakfast, lunch and snack ideas as well as dinner meals the whole family can enjoy, you can learn more about our plans that we offer.  We also have a great email group – sign up below to learn more about gestational diabetes today!

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Treating Gestational Diabetes – What Should I Do for a Healthy Baby? Part 2

treating Gestational Diabetes

Treating Gestational Diabetes – Learn What Works

You may recall my post about treating gestational diabetes with food and exercise.  I talked about how you can use food, such as working with a meal plan, to make your compliance better.  And with exercise you can lower your blood sugar as a way to decrease the highs that come with meals.

When you consider treating gestational diabetes, you usually ask about medications as well.

You need to keep your blood sugar under control – in the range of less than 95 mg/dl before meals, and <140 mg/dl at 1 hour after starting your meal.  That is the goal and that is what you need to understand to know what your doctor is going to do when treating gestational diabetes.

If diet and exercise are not enough, you will need to consider with your doctor what medications you should take to control your blood sugars.  Some information suggests that you should allow about 2 weeks for the diet and exercise to control your gestational diabetes prior to treating gestational diabetes with insulin or oral medication.  Depending on the amount of control that your diet and body can manage, you may be able to make it through the entire pregnancy without medication.  That is a fine goal to have.  Some women do just fine, and others find it is almost impossible to manage.

When considering treating gestational diabetes, think of it this way.  It’s only for the last 14-16 weeks of pregnancy.  You can do this and you should do what is necessary to manage your blood sugars so your baby will be healthy.  And I know that is what you are doing when you are thinking about whether or not you should take medication because it may have side effects.

Insulin for Treating Gestational Diabetes

Insulin is hands down the safest medication that you can consider.  It must be injected – usually several times per day – and a lot of women don’t like that.  It is a very fast acting medication and tends to bring the blood sugars down quickly depending on the amount you use and how much carbohydrate you have eaten.  It’s usually considered in women when their fasting blood glucose is over 95 mg/dl or their 1 hour values are over 140 mg/dl.  No magic amount of insulin has been found, every woman is individual and considered by her reaction to the medicine.

Insulin is safe because it does not cross the placenta.  In treating gestational diabetes, most women are given insulin either as a primary therapy if diet does not work, or as a secondary therapy after trying an oral medication.  Overall, insulin has been used the longest in pregnancy and is the best choice.

Oral Agents for Treating Gestational Diabetes

The main oral agent recommended by physicians is glyburide, but there is additional risk with oral agents because they cross the placenta and can affect the baby.  Glyburide has not been shown to be safe and effective, all oral agents have a pregnancy category of B at a minimum.  Other medications that may be used are metformin and glucophage.  Metformin works by decreasing your body’s production of glucose and improves your body’s ability to use insulin that it already makes.  Metformin should not be taken by women who have kidney problems or have had kidney problems in the past because it does affect the kidneys.  Glyburide works to stimulate insulin release, and increase insulin sensitivity in your body.  Allowing your body to use the insulin it has better.

Part of the issue with gestational diabetes is that your hormones that are being produced by the placenta have started to affect your body’s ability to handle insulin.  You may need more insulin than you like at meals and checking your blood sugar will continue to happen throughout the pregnancy.  You will need a gestational diabetes meal plan.

A few studies have shown that glyburide and insulin show similar outcomes while treating gestational diabetes.  You have to make the choice with your doctor about how you will treat your gestational diabetes because every woman is different.  Medication is not going to allow you to stop doing any of the other parts of this process to make it through your pregnancy and attain a healthy baby.  You will have to do all of the things (if required) to get the best outcome.

Treating gestational diabetes is not easy and involves a mutli-level approach, starting with food and exercise and adding medication as needed.

 

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Gestational Diabetes Meal: Shape Up Your Plate

When you are planning out your gestational diabetes meal, creating a healthy yet well balanced meal is one of the most important parts of your process.

I am blogging about a gestational diabetes meal as part of National Nutrition Month, you can learn more at the Academy Of Nutrition and Dietetics website – http://www.eatright.org/nnm/ 

Gestational diabetes is a short term issue but can lead to long term problems because many women who have gestational diabetes will go on to develop type 2 diabetes.  Keeping your meals in check throughout your pregnancy will lower your stress as well as improve your long term health if you keep eating the healthy way you learn during pregnancy.

One of the priorities for you, your unborn child and your doctor is to manage your blood sugars through what you eat at a gestational diabetes meal, medication and exercise.  Many women find that part of that management means some foods are limited based on their bodies and hormones.  Every woman’s body is unique and may react differently to the same foods.  But the foods that we are talking about when it comes to controlling your blood sugars are mainly carbohydrates.

What are carbohydrates and how do they affect your gestational diabetes meal?

Carbohydrates are the component of food that breaks down into glucose in your digestive system (stomach) and is absorbed into your blood stream as glucose.  They are part of a lot of foods, and can be composed of simple to complex molecules.  It is not that you should avoid carbohydrate – you need some of it!  But certain types of carbohydrate are going to cause your blood sugar to increase quickly while some are absorbed more slowly and lead to a lower peak in your glucose level.

Take for example, simple sugar.  The white stuff.  Or honey, which is concentrated sugar.  This will be absorbed quickly by your body and cause a spike in your blood sugar.  Because your body, as a gestational diabetic, does not handle the increase as well as someone who does not have diabetes, you will find that your sugar may stay high.  I know that many women avoid sweeteners during pregnancy, and that is your choice.  But consider that you really should avoid simple sugar unless it is part of a combined gestational diabetes meal that has protein and fat.

Better carbohydrate choices are going to be multi-grain foods and items that have a lot of fiber and are less processed.  Fruits instead of fruit juice.  The fiber slows the absorption of the food and allows your body to respond a little slower, which is good.  Eating whole grain pasta or wild rice instead of plain white rice is a good choice.  Whole grain wheat breads (make sure it has 2-3 gm of fiber per slice) make a much better choice than a slice of white bread.  Your body can usually break down white bread almost as quickly as simple sugar, and should be exchanged for whole grains in a gestational diabetes meal.

Portion sizes of the carbohydrate foods are very important, and most of us can underestimate our portion sizes when creating a gestational diabetes meal plate.  I recommend that you use a scale and weigh your food until you have a better awareness of how much is supposed to be a portion.  Usually – it’s about 1/3 cup on rice, and that is cooked rice – but it’s not very much!  Weigh out your cereal – a whole grain or bran type cereal – and see how big the bowl looks compared to the serving!  Add milk to it and you are adding more carbohydrate so watch the portion on that as well.

Shaping Up Your Gestational Diabetes Meal As a Complete Plan

So, controlling the amount of carbohydrate is tantamount to good blood sugar control for all of the gestational diabetes meal plans that you use.  I want to state again that complete avoidance of carbohydrate is not the answer.  You can eat a low carbohydrate diet, and by that I mean even as low as 30 gm of carbohydrate at meals, but you still have to eat some.  You and your baby need it, and not eating it at a gestational diabetes meal would be detrimental.

But you can help your body to process that carbohydrate more slowly by eating combined meals.  A “shaped up plate” would be one that has protein and fat foods on it as well.  So, you may find that you can eat 1/2 a sandwich with a good helping of meat and some mayonnaise for lunch and your blood sugar is under 130 at your 1 hour check.  Add some vegetables to that meal, maybe raw vegetables with a light ranch dip, and you have a good meal to start with.  You would probably not want to add chips to the gestational diabetes meal, but you could add another ounce of meat to your sandwich or create a nice side salad and have a full meal.  Some women even find that they can tolerate peanut butter and crackers for their evening snack and have a good blood sugar in the morning.

I think it’s important to realize that there are foods that will raise your blood sugars, and you need to eat some amounts of them at most of your gestational diabetes meal.  But combining them with protein and fat foods make them absorb slower and allow your body the chance to respond at it’s adjusted pace of insulin production.  For a gestational diabetic meal, you can have a healthy plate with a good portion of vegetables (green, orange or yellow) and some protein that will make a well rounded meal and keep you under control.

Other things affect your blood sugars, and you should be aware of them so you can note them in your blood sugar logs.  If you have a lot of stress, hormones that are released in your body can increase your blood sugar levels.  While you will never get your stress to zero, finding a way to reduce the amount of stress that you have is a priority.  The time of day can also play a big part in your blood sugars, as fasting blood sugars can be hard to control (but manageable with the adjustments of night time snacks) and hormones from your placenta may be released and cause an increase as well.  This is a big part of why every woman is going to be a little different when it comes to controlling your blood sugars.

Finally, exercise will help you keep your blood sugars down!  Something as simple as a walk right after you eat for 20 minutes will bring down your blood sugar levels because your body uses the sugar for energy.  It’s like a shot of insulin without the shot!

Consider your weight gain and the baby’s growth as two other important factors to determine if you are meeting your needs with what you eat at a gestational diabetes meal.  If you are in need of more information about how to follow a gestational diabetes diet meal plan, you can check out our meal plans – go there now.

Gestational Diabetes Treatment: What Are The Guidelines? Part 1

Now that you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes based on the glucose tolerance test, what should you do?

Your gestational diabetes treatment is based on clinical guidelines that tell your obstetrician how to manage your blood sugars and keep you as healthy as possible!

The treatment uses 3 different types of controls to get your blood sugars where they need to be for your health and the safety of your baby.

When managing your treatment of gestational diabetes, some interventions are more complicated than others.  Most doctors typically start with trying to control your blood sugars using a diet and exercise plan that can keep your blood sugars under control most of the time.  Never forget, your pregnant body is full of hormones, and sometimes it does not react the way that would be expected.  During the management of gestational diabetes, what is of the utmost importance is the health of the baby and mom, not necessarily if you have to take medication or not.  It’s a short time that you will need to tightly manage your eating and blood sugars, so grin and bear it!

Most gestational diabetes treatment starts with dietary control.  It’s important that a mom be provided with some nutritional guidelines that are individualized based on what she needs.  If she is a vegetarian, the meal plan that is provided by the professional should reflect ways to get the needed protein, carbohydrate and fat without the animal proteins that mom has chosen to avoid.  Most moms see either a certified diabetes educator (nurse or dietitian) or a registered dietitian who can provide them with calorie levels and guidance about what foods to eat and how much.  Many women may find this to be enough information and be able to successfully navigate the foods that they need to eat and grow a healthy baby.  Sometimes, more information is needed, and some women may choose to purchase a gestational diabetes meal plan that can help them understand all of their options.  Either way, mom will start with eating the right amounts of carbohydrate at meals.

Often, pregnant women with diabetes find that their blood sugar is affected by foods in different ways.  Sometimes, a fruit can cause a spike in blood sugars, while other foods such as ice cream seem to allow for a smooth transition without a blood sugar spike.  It is important to track what you eat, how much and when as well as you check your blood sugars.  This will help you and your doctor understand what parts of the day and what foods are most affecting you.  It’s going to be different for every woman, as our bodies have different responses to hormones that are peaking during pregnancy.

How many calories should you eat for your gestational diabetes treatment plan?

For women who are not over weight before pregnancy, it is recommended to eat 30 calories/kg/day.  1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds, so divide your weight in pounds by 2.2, then take that number and multiply by 30.  For example, if you weighed 150 pounds that is 68.18 kilograms.  So you would estimate your calorie needs at about 2045 per day.  Women who are over weight should multiply by 25 calories/kg/day.  As long as your baby is growing and your blood sugars are under control, you should be okay with the amount of food you are eating during your gestational diabetes treatment.

The next step that many doctors also recommend in combination with diet control is exercise.  While you probably were exercising during your pregnancy, exercise in small bursts throughout the day can help a mom control her blood sugars well.  After every meal, it will be important to take a 15 minute walk at a quick pace to lower your blood sugar. Exercise causes your body to use the sugar in your blood more effectively, and you can decrease your spike by adding in a burst of exercise a few times a day.  This also gives you health benefits by controlling the weight gain and improving your aerobic capacity.  That will come in handy during labor.  Check with your doctor if you are concerned about exercise, but it’s one of the best ways to lower blood sugar without using insulin.

In our next post we will talk about the medications that are used to manage gestational diabetes treatment and how they work.

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