Gestational diabetes is a condition that affects approximately four percent of pregnant women in the United States. A woman who has been diagnosed with gestational diabetes will not necessarily continue to have diabetes after her pregnancy. In most instances, diabetes disappears. Women who have had gestational diabetes, however, may have a higher incidence of developing diabetes later in their lives.
Gestational diabetes occurs when the body is unable to break down glucose, a type of sugar. Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose travel from the blood into the cells of the body. Diabetes occurs when the glucose builds up in the blood and is unable to move to the cells.
There are several factors which indicate that a pregnant woman may be at risk for diabetes. If you have already had a large baby, or you had gestational diabetes in a prior pregnancy, you are at a higher risk. If you are over twenty-five years old, you may be at a higher risk for gestational diabetes. If you weigh twenty percent over your ideal weight, you may also be at a higher risk for developing this condition. If someone in your family is a diabetic, you are also at a higher risk.
If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, there is some good news. You can control this condition, and you may not have to take any type of medication to do this. When you are pregnant, you will be given a glucose tolerance test. If the test indicates that you may have gestational diabetes, your doctor will probably give you a more exact test in which your blood is taken over several hours after you have drunk a sugar-loaded drink, which will be provided for you. Once you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you will probably be given an appointment with a certified dietician to help you construct a healthy diet.
Monitoring your dietary intake and calorie amounts, along with constructing and exercise plan, will usually control your gestational diabetes. Your dietician should give you literature to read and counsel you on the various foods you can and should eat. It is important for you to understand that you are not dieting to lose weight. You still need those extra calories that are necessary for the health and growth of your baby. You just need to choose those calories wisely.
You need to avoid eating sweet foods such as candy, cakes, cookies, etc. Instead of ice cream, enjoy some yogurt. Frozen yogurt is an excellent substitute for ice cream. You can eat foods with natural sugars, such as fruits. Your dietician will tell you the specific amounts you are allowed daily.
Balance is important as you plan your meals. You still need to eat a variety of foods, and this can include pasta, bread, rice, and potatoes. You will need to plan your meals so that you do not have too much of certain foods, however. In other words, donâ’t load up on starches and skip vegetables and fruits. Some excellent snacks to eat between meals include nuts, peanut butter and crackers, raisins, and carrot and celery sticks.
Exercise also plays an important role in controlling gestational diabetes. Exercise can lower your blood sugar level. Of course, you will want to consult your ob-gyn before starting an intensive exercise program. One of the best exercises a pregnant woman can do is simply walk every day. Swimming is also a wonderful way for a pregnant woman to exercise. If you haven’t been exercising, you will need to start off slowly. Add a few minutes to your routine every day until you have built your regimen up to a comfortable level.
As your pregnancy continues, you will need to monitor your blood sugar level by testing your sugar at least once a day, preferably in the morning before you have eaten. Your doctor will tell you how often she would like you to test. As you go to your monthly appointments, your doctor will continue to monitor you and your baby closely. While gestational diabetes should be taken seriously and controlled, pregnant women should not panic at the initial diagnosis. Gestational diabetes can be managed if you follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly.