Valentine’s Day Ideas for Gestational Diabetes

Having gestational diabetes (GDM) should not hinder couples from enjoying Valentine’s Day. Of course, chocolates and candies are already out of the picture, but those things do not comprise the whole of Valentine’s Day. The important thing here is to spend the day together, no matter what kind of activities you engage into. As a partner to a woman with gestational diabetes, moral and emotional support can go a long way in relieving stress caused by GDM. Here are some of the ways in which couples can enjoy each other’s company during the most romantic time of the year:

  1. Schedule a visit to the doctor together. Unlike other women with normal pregnancy, a woman with GDM would need extra prenatal visits to the doctor to monitor the baby and take care of you accordingly. Why not schedule a visit to the doctor with your partner on Valentine’s Day? This is a good way to promote bonding between couples, and also to involve the partner in the care of both the baby and soon-to-be mom. The woman will feel as if she is not alone in this phase of her life, and it would help her a great deal emotionally.
  2. Shop for cookbooks on gestational diabetes. For couples who love to cook, planning a meal together can be romantic. Do not make your partner feel alone by restricting her from eating foods with too much carbohydrates or simple sugars. Instead, try to plan your meals accordingly so that both of you enjoy delicious yet low sugar foods. Buying a cookbook exclusively catering to meals that are best for people with gestational diabetes is a good way to show your empathy towards your partner. And of course, don’t forget to cook these foods for her!  You can read more about our cookbook here – Gestational Diabetes Diet Meal Plan and Recipes: Your Guide To Controlling Blood Sugars & Weight Gain
  3. Learn about gestational diabetes. In order for you to be able to help your partner in coping with her condition, you also need to learn about what GDM is all about. You can schedule to attend a seminar about GDM so that you can learn about the different aspects of the condition. Another way is to buy books about GDM and read them together. Women with GDM can also share their feelings to their partners about the condition so that their partners will know how to act accordingly.
  4. Exercise together. Physical activity is also a part of GDM coping, since this can enhance the woman’s response to insulin, thus lowering her blood sugar levels. You can plan an exercise routine that both of you can do together, and then have the doctor approve it before executing it. A study made by the American Diabetes Association showed that women with GDM are more likely to stick to an exercise routine if they are being encouraged and supported by their partners.
  5. Do chores together. Traditionally speaking, women are supposed to do the household chores and responsibilities at home. But then, a woman with GDM easily gets fatigued because glucose is not readily converted into energy. What you can do is to help her in doing the chores at home so that she does not get tired easily. And for Valentine’s Day, why not volunteer to do the work altogether? Aside from helping her relieve her fatigue, you also make her feel like your queen. That, perhaps, is one of the most romantic gestures that you can do, far more romantic than chocolates and candies.  Trust me, she will really appreciate a night off from doing her regular “stuff”.

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Studies Show Gestational Diabetes Risk Increases with Every Pregnancy

Newborn

Newborn (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People often say that each pregnancy is different. What you may experience during your first pregnancy may not be the same as your experiences in your subsequent pregnancies. However, a recent study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology showed that women with gestational diabetes during their first pregnancy have higher risks of developing the same condition in their subsequent pregnancies. In fact, according to this study, the risk increases with each pregnancy.

In the research, 65,132 first-time pregnant women with gestational diabetes were used as the sample population by a group of researchers led by Dr. Darius Getahun. One of the findings was that the risk of these women getting gestational diabetes during their second pregnancy is 13.2% increased. There is also an increase of 6.3% in the third pregnancy of women who initially had gestational diabetes but did not suffer from the condition during their second pregnancies. Those who have experienced gestational diabetes during the first and second pregnancies had a 26% risk for developing the same condition during the third pregnancy. Getahun was quick to point out that having gestational diabetes during the first pregnancy already means that the woman will likely also have the same condition in her second pregnancy.

Aside from the aforementioned risks, women with gestational diabetes are also at risk for developing type 2 diabetes mellitus. That is why it is highly recommended by the American Diabetes Association and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology for women with gestational diabetes to undergo counseling when it comes to lifestyle modifications, like diet, exercise, and weight loss or maintenance.

One of the limitations of the study was that the researchers did not look into other lifestyle factors that may have had contributed to a woman’s increased risk on gestational diabetes. They did not consider that the obesity of a woman can actually contribute in increasing the risk of developing gestational diabetes. Instead, the researchers recommend that early identification of pregnant women who are at risk for developing gestational diabetes and timely postpartum care should be exercised so as to prevent gestational diabetes and other adverse pregnancy situations from happening.

The study also showed that a person’s race or ethnicity may play a role in the return of gestational diabetes. According to the survey in the said study, Hispanic and Asian/Pacific islander women had the highest risk of developing gestational diabetes among other races. This can be due to the fact that the food in these races contains a high glycemic index, which means that they easily affect the levels of glucose in the bloodstream, thus causing sudden spikes.

According to Dr. Manju Monga of the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston, the findings in the aforementioned study reflect consistency in the results of more recent studies as of late.

As a recommendation, Dr. Monga further advises women with gestational diabetes to have themselves screened for type 2 diabetes after six months of giving birth. This will give them a head start on modifying their lifestyle to avoid developing type 2 diabetes later on in life.

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What Are The Blood Sugar Levels For The OGTT?

What Are The Blood Sugar Levels For The OGTT?

How Does The Doctor Diagnose Gestational Diabetes?

OGTTMonitoring one’s blood sugar levels in gestational diabetes (GDM) is essential. To be able to diagnose gestational diabetes in a pregnant woman, it is not enough to only rely on the physical manifestations, such as blurring of vision, increased thirst, increased appetite, and increased urination. The woman also has to undergo glucose screening tests in order to prove that she is really suffering from gestational diabetes. One of the tests that are being done on women to finalize their diagnosis of gestational diabetes is the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT).

What is OGTT?

OGTT determines the amount of sugar or glucose present in the blood at a given time. In this test, the woman has to fast for at least eight hours before the test. A blood sample will be taken to measure the woman’s normal fasting blood glucose level. Afterwards, she will be asked to drink a liquid with around 75 grams of glucose in it. 30 minutes after finishing the solution, her blood sample will be taken once again. Three more blood extractions will be done every hour for the succeeding three hours, hence the test will last for approximately 3 hours. The values derived from the OGTT will determine whether a pregnant woman has gestational diabetes or not.

Normal and abnormal values

As a general rule, the normal value of the fasting blood sugar should be between 60-100 mg/dl. Anything higher than that is a candidate for gestational diabetes. The 1-hour sample should yield less than 180 mg/dl in order to be considered normal. As for the 2-hour sample, abnormal values are 155 mg/dl and above. For the sample for the third hour, 140 mg/dl and higher are already considered diabetic.

If only one of the readings is abnormal, this does not automatically mean that the woman is already diabetic. Another OGTT might be needed later on in the pregnancy. The doctor might also advise her to make some modifications in her diet and physical activities.

However, if two or more readings are interpreted as abnormal, they are already conclusive enough to be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

Factors affecting OGTT

There are several things that might yield false results in the OGTT. Some of these are:

  • Medications, such as phenytoin, and corticosteroids. You should consult your doctor first before having an OGTT while taking the aforementioned drugs.
  • Acute stress
  • Heavy exercise

What should I do if I am diagnosed with GDM?

The important thing in GDM is to control the blood sugar level and keep it within the normal limits so as to prevent any complications from arising. This can be achieved through proper diet and exercise. Diet should include moderate fats and proteins, complex carbohydrates, and less sugar. Exercise is also important to use up excess glucose during pregnancy. It is also essential to visit the health care provider to monitor not only the condition of the mother, but also of the baby.

Take a moment and check out my book on gestational diabetes, and if you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes you can get more great information and meal plans for your condition.

To learn more about gestational diabetes, you can sign up for our mailing list and keep yourself updated with all the information you need in managing the condition.  Enter your name and email in the box below and we will send you 3 dinner meals and an ebook about how gestational diabetes can be managed.

 

 

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.

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What Is Gestational Diabetes?

What Is Gestational Diabetes?

What is Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes, which develops during pregnancy, is a condition that affects how the body’s cells use glucose. Those who develop gestational diabetes may experience high blood sugar, which affects the health of both mother and baby. Fortunately, this condition can be controlled and blood sugar returns to normal after the child is delivered.

Symptoms Of Gestational Diabetes In Moms

In most cases of gestational diabetes, no obvious symptoms are present. Although no symptoms occur, tests are administered to all expectant mothers to check for elevated blood sugar levels. Many doctors would recommend that any woman wanting to become pregnant should see a professional in order to evaluate the risk of developing gestational diabetes. For those who do not choose to do so, checking for gestational diabetes is part of routine prenatal care at about 24 weeks. Expectant mothers who develop this condition can easily learn to manage their blood sugar with the help of healthy eating, exercise and in some cases medication.

Risk Factors

Although any woman can develop gestational diabetes, some are at a higher risk than others are.

Risk factors of developing gestational diabetes are:

Pre-diabetes: slightly elevated blood sugar.
Carrying excess weight: Being significantly overweight increases the chances of developing gestational diabetes
Those older than 25 years of age
Those who are not Caucasian: Although the reason remains unknown, women who are not Caucasian in race have a higher risk of developing this condition.

Mothers with gestational diabetes have a high chance of delivering healthy babies but complications are still possible.

Complications that of gestational diabetes that affect the child include:

Hypoglycemia: Babies of mothers with gestational diabetes can develop hypoglycemia, which is low blood sugar.
Preterm birth: Mother’s with high blood sugar may go into labor early and deliver the child before the due date. Doctors may also recommend early delivery if the baby is growing too large.
Excessive birth weight: Extra glucose in the mother’s bloodstream can trigger their baby to grow too large too quickly. This is a result of the baby’s pancreas making excess insulin
Jaundice: Although not a huge concern, jaundice should be monitored carefully.

Mothers with gestational diabetes can also experience serious complications.

These complications are:

Pre-eclampsia
Eclampsia
Diabetes

Overall, gestational diabetes is a condition that should be taken seriously. Although there is a risk of complications that can affect both mother and child, it can be easily managed. In most cases, a great meal plan can control the condition and keep both mother and baby is good health. Eating right is a crucial step to controlling gestational diabetes.

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Learn more about our gestational diabetes meal plans at our informational page – Click here to learn more!

Gestational Diabetes Treatment – What Choices Do I Have?

Gestational Diabetes Treatment – What Choices Do I Have?

Pregnant Girl Eating Cake

Pregnant Girl Eating Cake (Photo credit: o5com)

Gestational Diabetes Treatment Is Important

Pregnancy can be a joyous occasion as mom and dad prepare for the arrival of the little one. However, women are not without minor to major complications during these 9 months. Conditions from morning sickness and fatigue to major complications can hospitalize the expectant mother from several days to weeks. Gestational diabetes is a condition brought on by pregnancy and is characterized by high sugar levels within the blood. Symptoms include excessive thirst and urination. Expectant mothers may also experience blurred vision, bladder infection and vomiting unassociated with pregnancy, and this makes you wonder what is the treatment for gestational diabetes.

Reasons to Solve the Problem

There are potential short and long term risks for mother and child due to gestational diabetes. Large birth size, breathing difficulty and low blood sugar levels at birth are but a few. There is also a risk of the mother developing metabolic syndrome after the child is born. This condition is associated with heart disease and other heart related conditions as diabetes and stroke. There is also a greater risk of childhood obesity for the infant, especially if you don’t pursue any gestational diabetes treatment.

Solutions for the Problem

Gestational diabetes often is tested and diagnosed during the 24th week of pregnancy. Doctors are still unclear regarding aggressiveness of treatment or start of initial screening. However, they do agree treatment will severely reduce complications associated with the condition. Although rare, some women are prescribed insulin to combat gestational diabetes. It is recommended women who do require insulin should always have a sweet food available to prevent low blood sugar. Low blood sugar is initially characterized by lightheadedness and nausea. If not treated right away the condition can be dangerous. Most cases of gestational diabetes can be treated with exercise and proper nutrition, especially the use of a meal plan.

Proper exercise helps to maintain healthy weight and blood circulation. Proper nutrition is the thing that keeps a mom from insulin dependency during pregnancy. Proper nutrition, as part of your gestational diabetes treatment, will provide foods that do not cause blood sugar levels to spike. Mothers must not forget they are eating for two and must be able to maintain an eating program of appropriate foods that do not add empty calories. Empty calorie foods include candy, cakes, ice cream and other sugary foods and cereals. Expectant mothers should also be aware of juice intake. Some makers claim their products to be sugar free or 100% juice. However, some of these products contain sugar and are contraindicated for the mother with gestational diabetes.  Each trimester will require eating habits to be adjusted to the baby’s needs. Some doctors prescribe prenatal vitamins during pregnancy. Mothers must realize vitamins are not meant to replace nutritional needs but to aid the pregnancy. Therefore, whole grain foods that are rich in fiber will give mother and baby a tremendous advantage. High fiber foods help digestion and may alleviate constipation associated with pregnancy.

Fortunately, gestational diabetes often disappears after birth. Proper care and nutrition during the condition will reduce long-term risks upon mother and child, and is the proper gestational diabetes treatment.  You can use a gestational diabetes meal plan to make life a lot easier on you and your family to help solve the treatment issues you might encounter.  Read more about our gestational diabetes meal plan on our information page.

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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 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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