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10 Tips For Gestational Diabetes Self Care

10 Tips For Gestational Diabetes Self Care
Linda Guerrera

Pregnancy can take its toll on a woman's body, which is why proper prenatal care is vital to ensure a healthy mother and baby. There are so many things to be aware of which you may have taken for granted. Adding gestational diabetes into the mix can be quite challenging, and lifestyle changes are necessary to control blood sugar levels.

If you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, it is vital to follow your doctor's advice and treatment to avoid any complications such as:

  • Miscarriage
  • Preeclampsia
  • Premature birth 
  • High birth weight 
  • Stillbirth

10 Tips For Gestational Diabetes Self-Care

Gestational diabetes self-care is vital to both mother and baby. While every mother-to-be should follow strict prenatal instructions, they are even more important while managing gestational diabetes. An article by The National Institue of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases offers these tips:

1. Pay Attention To Your Diet

It's true, you are eating for two. Vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats should be the focus of your diet. Stay away from sugary foods and refined carbohydrates, which can cause your body to make ketones, which indicates that your body is burning fat instead of glucose, which can be harmful to both mother and baby. Monitor portion sizes and spread your meals throughout the day to help control blood sugar levels.

2. Be Active

Exercise is an important part of gestational diabetes self-care, but it is imperative to ask your doctor about any exercise plan you may be considering. Even if you were normally active before pregnancy, make sure any activity you engage in is safe for you and your baby. Moderate exercise can help regulate blood sugar levels and overall well-being. Activities such as walking, swimming, or prenatal yoga are great ways to stay active during pregnancy.

3. Monitor Blood Sugar Levels

Your OB/GYN may want you to check your glucose levels regularly. It's also a good idea to keep track of how different foods, activities, and stress levels affect your blood sugar. Create a log to help monitor any fluctuations, and be sure to share this with your doctor.

The NIDDK has set the following target blood sugar levels for women with gestational diabetes:

Less than 95* Bedtime, overnight & before meals
Less than 140* 1 hour after meals
Less than 120* 2 hours after meals

*Ask your medical professional if these guidelines are right for you.

4. Take Your Meds (if prescribed)

Your doctor may prescribe medication to manage your gestational diabetes. The National Library of Medicine along with the American Diabetes Association published a study that found the insulin known as Lantus can be advantageous when used in pregnancy. Be certain to follow your doctor’s instructions for timing and dosage.

5. Weight Management

As stated earlier, you are eating for two. But remember, you are eating for yourself and your baby. This means that you shouldn't be eating for two adults, but rather, you should make healthy choices to support the developing brain and body systems of your child while maintaining your own health and healthy weight. Gaining too much weight during pregnancy can affect blood sugar levels.

6. Regular Prenatal Care

Make sure to attend all your prenatal appointments and follow your healthcare provider's advice. Your doctor will monitor your condition and provide guidance based on your specific needs.

7. Stress Management

Did you know that stress can affect blood sugar levels? It is important that the mother-to-be avoid stress as much as possible. Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or prenatal yoga to manage stress.

8. Education and Support

Learn what you can about gestational diabetes from reliable sources. Your doctor, a nutritionist who specializes in gestational diabetes, or diabetes support groups are great resources. Knowing and understanding the condition will help you make informed choices.

9. Stay Hydrated

Drinking water is important to stay hydrated, and it also helps control blood sugar levels. Make sure to stay away from caffeinated and sugary drinks.

10. Post-Partum Care

Blood sugar levels typically return to normal after giving birth. However, it's important to see your doctor who can properly test your blood to make sure your glucose levels have normalized.

What To Avoid With Gestational Diabetes

As you can imagine, there are specific foods and beverages that you should stay away from when diagnosed with gestational diabetes. An article by Diabetes Strong recommends avoiding the following:

  • Candy
  • Alcohol
  • Fast food
  • Processed foods
  • Sugary beverages
  • White rice and pasta
  • Caffeinated energy drinks
  • Fried foods (such as French fries and chips)
  • Red meat that is high in fat (lean cuts are ok)
  • Cereals with more than 10 grams of sugar per serving

When To See A Doctor

It is important to see your doctor when you suspect you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. During your regular prenatal care, you will most likely be screened for Gestational diabetes. If you experience any unusual symptoms or suspect your glucose levels are not within healthy limits, talk to your doctor immediately

Gestational diabetes management during pregnancy is crucial for both the mother's and baby's health. Always consult your healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your diet, medication, or exercise. Talk to your doctor about the above tips. Any recommendations should be personalized according to your specific situation.

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HPFY Linda Guerrera

Linda Guerrera

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Linda Guerrera has been the Digital Content Manager for Health Products For You since 2022. A recipient of the New York State Broadcasters Award for Outstanding Work in Radio, she spent over ...

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