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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Gestational Diabetes Complications – Learn about the 5 Most Common Complications During Pregnancy [Are You at Risk?]

During your pregnancy, with every visit to your doctor you grow more excited about having a new baby.  You may have a few worries, but with gestational diabetes, you can have more complications than normal.  Being aware of what the complications are can help you recognize when they may be occurring and call your doctor if necessary.

One of the most common of the gestational diabetes complications is having a larger than normal baby.  This puts you as the mom more likely to gain too much weight.  When your blood sugar is continually high as is the case with uncontrolled gestational diabetes, your baby’s blood sugar is also high.  The baby grows larger than normal because it is getting excess calories and its body puts those extra calories into fat storage.

Another of the most common gestational diabetes complications is having to have a C-section.  At delivery, if the baby is too large, you may be unable to have a regular birth.  C-sections can cost more money because they are an actual operation.  They also increase the recovery time for mom to an average of 6 weeks.  With the new baby, recovering from a C-section can be difficult.

Thirdly, more important gestational diabetes complications can arise related to high blood pressure, which can also lead to preeclampsia.  Preeclampsia is usually shown by swelling in your hands and feet it will go away and excess protein in your urine tests which indicates kidney damage.  High blood pressure could eventually lead to seizures.  Women with gestational diabetes or diabetes during pregnancy tend to have high blood pressure more often.

Hypoglycemia is part of multifaceted group of gestational diabetes complications and can lead to a great number of problems.  Your obstetrician may place you on insulin or another medication to help you control your blood sugars to help reduce further complications.  If you happen to forget to eat but have taken your insulin for the day or the meal, your blood sugar might get dangerously low.  It’s important to check your blood sugar throughout the day as recommended by your doctor.

Finally, developing diabetes later in life is one of the most common gestational diabetes complications.  Women who have gestational diabetes during their pregnancy are at twice the risk of developing type 2 diabetes within 10 years.  A great way to reduce your risk is through controlling your gestational diabetes and periodically having checkups where your doctor monitors your blood sugar levels about every 3 years.

If you follow a healthy meal plan and eat on a regular basis throughout the day, you can avoid, or at least reduce the risk of many of the complications associated with gestational diabetes.  Learning more about the disease can help you control these gestational diabetes complications, read more in our email series.  Go there now and sign up for more information.