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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Pregnancy Induced Diabetes: Your Questions Answered

We’ve gathered some of the most common questions asked about pregnancy induced diabetes, and brought them together to provide you with some answers.

Gestational diabetes is defined as diabetes that is diagnosed during pregnancy and was not present prior to pregnancy.  Sometimes people call it pregnancy induced diabetes.  Because you have the condition only while you’re pregnant.  And once you deliver the baby and the placenta, typically you can return to normal eating pattern.  Today I’m going to review some questions and provide answers for the most commonly asked items related to pregnancy induced diabetes.

How Common Is Pregnancy Induced Diabetes?

Nationally, between 1 to 2 women in 10, develop gestational diabetes during their pregnancy.  The guidelines are somewhat stricter for the development of the disease because of the fact that you’re pregnant and they want to take extra caution caring for your baby.  Even though it is fairly common, it’s not clear what women can do to prevent developing pregnancy induced diabetes.

What Are the Causes of Gestational Diabetes?

As you may be aware of, when you’re pregnant your hormones in your body do all kinds of things to your emotions, physical body amongst other things.  Hormones are the root cause of development of pregnancy induced diabetes as well.  As your pregnancy progresses, insulin sensitivity decreases.  Women who are overweight when they get pregnant may already have pre-diabetes and their body can’t manage the changes in insulin sensitivity.  Insulin resistance is also increased because of placental hormones.  Some of these hormones are cortisol, estrogen, and progesterone.  As the baby develops your placenta gets larger and also secretes more hormones.  This further causes insulin sensitivity to decrease.  So as your pregnancy progresses, if your body can’t make enough insulin to adjust to the amount that your body needs, you develop gestational diabetes.  This is also why they tend to test for gestational diabetes during the 24th through 28th week, because by that point it will have developed enough to show in a blood test.

How Does My Doctor Screen and Diagnose Pregnancy Induced Diabetes?

Your obstetrician initially determines your risk level for developing pregnancy induced diabetes and that helps them to determine when to test you.  If the determination is made to give you the initial test, for screening women are typically given 50 g of sugar.  This is called an oral glucose challenge because you drink a sugary sweet liquid.  Blood is drawn at 1 hour, and tested.  Typically, your physician will consider you for further testing if your 1 hour glucose challenge lab result is over 130 mg/dL.  If you fail the one hour glucose challenge test, your doctor will require you to do a 3 hour oral glucose tolerance test [OGTT].  In this testing, women are given 100 g of glucose and their blood is taken every hour for 3 hours.  Your doctor will determine the thresholds and how to diagnose.  Even if your blood sugar seems just a little bit elevated you should consider following a gestational diabetes diet plan to keep from having a larger baby or gaining too much weight.

Even if you have pregnancy induced diabetes, it’s important to realize that it’s easily managed using a meal pattern, exercise, and sometimes medication.  Most women view it as something that they have to tolerate for the duration of the pregnancy knowing that after the placenta is delivered, the condition typically goes away.  Click here now to learn more about our gestational diabetes meal plan and get an e-book that tells you even more about diabetes during pregnancy and how you can manage it.