Gestational Diabetes Diet And Exercise
The majority of glucose in the bloodstream comes from the food and drink. This means that making changes to diet can have a major positive impact on lowering and stabilising blood sugar levels.
Reducing or eliminating sugar, sweets, cakes and full sugar drinks alone is not enough to lower blood sugar levels significantly with gestational diabetes.
Carbohydrates turn into glucose in the bloodstream which means reducing the amount eaten and choosing better carbs which take longer to be processed in the body.
A real food diet of unprocessed foods which are high in protein, high in good natural fats, with plenty of leafy green vegetables and salad, with small servings of complex carbohydrates have the best results for helping maintain good blood sugar levels.
To help explain the GD diet, we have 8 Golden Rules to follow:
Raising Awareness Of Gestational Diabetes
Abby and Charly are not alone in not knowing about gestational diabetes, in fact the majority of ladies who get diagnosed have not heard of gestational diabetes and know very little about the condition.
Gestational diabetes affects 5% of UK pregnancies and so raising awareness of the condition is very important.
Gestational diabetes stillbirth is rare and usually only seen in undiagnosed cases. Gestational diabetes can also cause many other complications. You can read more on these complications on this page.
We have shared some other real life stories of those that have suffered complications due to gestational diabetes. You can read these in the links below:-
Raeesas story late GD diagnosis
Q Will My Baby Be Affected
A. Gestational diabetes in a mother should not cause birth defects in her unborn child. However, if gestational diabetes goes undiagnosed and is not treated, there is a higher risk of certain problems in the baby, including the following.
- High birth weight. This can make vaginal delivery difficult, and can result in having an assisted delivery or a Caesarean section. Sometimes the baby may be injured during vaginal birth.
- Breathing difficulties after birth.
- Low blood glucose levels after birth. Babies born to mothers with diabetes will have their blood glucose levels tested regularly for the first few days after birth.
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Treatments For Gestational Diabetes
In women with gestational diabetes, the chances of having problems with the pregnancy can be reduced by controlling blood sugar levels.
You’ll be given a blood sugar testing kit so you can monitor the effects of treatment.
Blood sugar levels can be reduced by changes in diet and exercise. But the majority of women will need medication as well if changes in diet and exercise don’t reduce blood sugar enough. This may be tablets or insulin injections.
You’ll also be more closely monitored during your pregnancy and birth to check for any potential problems.
If you have gestational diabetes, it’s best to give birth before 41 weeks. Induction of labour or a caesarean section may be recommended if labour doesn’t start naturally by this time.
Earlier delivery may be recommended if your baby has grown bigger than usual, or if there are concerns about your or your baby’s health or your blood sugar levels haven’t been well controlled.
Help Us Raise Awareness And Stop Gestational Diabetes Stillbirth
Gestational diabetes stillbirth is so unnecessary when there are ways of testing and controlling the condition. With the majority of UK and Ireland hospitals only screening higher risk women for gestational diabetes, we would like to try raise the awareness of this condition.
WE WANT TO SEE ALL PREGNANT WOMEN SCREENED FOR GESTATIONAL DIABETES AND AT RISK GROUPS SCREENED EARLIER
Please help us in doing this by liking and sharing this page. You can follow us on , , and too and sharing or retweeting our posts and links.
Too many ladies have to be fight to be diagnosed and this is just not right.
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Q What If I Need Insulin
A. For some women, diet and exercise will not be enough to bring their blood glucose into the required range. If this is the case, you will probably need to have insulin injections.
Based on what times of day your blood glucose readings are high, members of your health team will advise you when you should inject insulin. If your glucose levels are staying high after a meal, you will probably be advised to inject short-acting insulin before meals.
In some women, oral diabetes medicine may be given, sometimes in combination with insulin, to treat gestational diabetes.
How Is Gestational Diabetes Diagnosed
The American Diabetes Association encourages doctors to routinely screen pregnant women for signs of gestational diabetes. If you have no known history of diabetes and normal blood sugar levels at the beginning of your pregnancy, your doctor will likely screen you for gestational diabetes when youre 24 to 28 weeks pregnant.
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Fighting To Get Diagnosed
Sadly, too often we see ladies join our support group who are fighting and battling to be listened to and are concerned that they have gestational diabetes.
If you find yourself in a situation where your concerns are being dismissed and you feel your midwife, GP or other health care provider is not listening to you, refusing to test you for GD, insisting you wait until a certain gestation before testing you, or because you have passed a GTT already they are refusing any further tests, then please come and join our support group for help with this.
We recommend that you start monitoring your blood sugar levels with a blood glucose monitor, using the NICE guidelines as a basis and then presenting the results to your MW or GP. If they do not act on high monitoring levels, then we recommend you getting in touch with your local hospitals diabetes team directly.
You may not be able to get a blood glucose monitor from you MW or GP and so you may wish to purchase one from a Pharmacy. Bear in mind when purchasing a monitor that the test strips used in monitors can be very expensive, so look for a monitor that has cheaper consumables, as opposed to the cheapest monitor which may charge much higher amounts for the test strips. If the cost is a problem for you, then you could join our Facebook group and get a monitor and some strips from a mother that has had her baby and no longer requires her monitor .
Q Can Gestational Diabetes Be Prevented
A. There are things you can do to reduce your risk of getting gestational diabetes. Making sure you eat a healthy diet, get enough physical activity and maintain a healthy weight lowers your chances.
Ensuring you have a healthy lifestyle before you get pregnant and then continuing on this track once you become pregnant will give you the best chance of avoiding gestational diabetes.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Gestational Diabetes
Most pregnant women dont experience signs or symptoms of gestational diabetes. In fact, the only way to know is with a blood sugar test, typically given around 24 to 28 weeks gestation.
A few women may notice subtle signs and symptoms of gestational diabetes, including:
- Increased thirst. Drinking more than normal and feeling like youre always thirsty may be a sign of gestational diabetes.
- Fatigue. Pregnant women are tired, after all its a lot of work to grow and support a baby! However, gestational diabetes can make you feel even more tired than normal.
- Dry mouth. A parched mouth despite drinking a lot can be another sign of gestational diabetes.
Growing Baby Growing Impact
Gestational diabetes affects the mother in late pregnancy, after the baby’s body has been formed, but while the baby is busy growing. Because of this, gestational diabetes does not cause the kinds of birth defects sometimes seen in babies whose mothers had diabetes before pregnancy.
However, untreated or poorly controlled gestational diabetes can hurt your baby. When you have gestational diabetes, your pancreas works overtime to produce insulin, but the insulin does not lower your blood glucose levels. Although insulin does not cross the placenta, glucose and other nutrients do. So extra blood glucose goes through the placenta, giving the baby high blood glucose levels. This causes the baby’s pancreas to make extra insulin to get rid of the blood glucose. Since the baby is getting more energy than it needs to grow and develop, the extra energy is stored as fat.
This can lead to macrosomia, or a “fat” baby. Babies with macrosomia face health problems of their own, including damage to their shoulders during birth. Because of the extra insulin made by the baby’s pancreas, newborns may have very low blood glucose levels at birth and are also at higher risk for breathing problems. Babies born with excess insulin become children who are at risk for obesity and adults who are at risk for type 2 diabetes.
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How Is Gestational Diabetes Managed After Pregnancy
Research has shown that women with gestational diabetes have a 3 to 7 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes within five to 10 years which is why its so important to make those healthy habits routine during pregnancy and keep a check on your health even after your pregnancy is over.
Here are a few ways to stay healthy after baby is born:
Q What Does Having Gestational Diabetes Mean For My Future
A. As mentioned, your chance of developing gestational diabetes again in further pregnancies is increased. Plus the chance of you developing type 2 diabetes is also increased.
Following a healthy diet, keeping your weight at a safe level, and having regular physical activity will help to reduce your chances of these things happening. Your doctor will recommend that you also have your blood sugar levels checked yearly, or have a glucose tolerance test about every 2 years.
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Other Ways To Keep You And Your Baby Healthy With Gestational Diabetes
Asterino-McGeean recommends keeping your doctor in the know as your pregnancy progresses. Continue with your scheduled appointments. Since your pregnancy is considered high risk if you have gestational diabetes, your obstetrician may also have you see a high-risk specialist for the remainder of your pregnancy, she says.
Managing gestational diabetes is ultimately a team sport and you are the quarterback. Self-monitoring blood glucose levels at home is important for a healthy pregnancy and baby, adds Asterino-McGeean.
Heres how to do it:
- Monitor your sugar four times a day. After fasting and one to two hours after each meal.
- Keep a written log of your blood sugar levels. Send it to your doctor every one to two weeks or as they recommend.
The most important thing is preventing high blood sugar levels to keep you and your baby safe, says Asterino-McGeean.
Screening For Gestational Diabetes
Your first antenatal appointment is around weeks 8 to 12 of your pregnancy. Your midwife or doctor will ask you some questions to determine whether you’re at an increased risk of gestational diabetes.
If you have one or more risk factors for gestational diabetes, , you should be offered a screening test.
The screening test used is called an oral glucose tolerance test . This usually takes about two hours.
It involves having a blood test taken in the morning when you’ve had nothing to eat or drink overnight . You’re then given a glucose drink.
After resting for two hours, another blood sample is taken to see how your body is dealing with the glucose.
The OGTT is usually done when you’re between 24 and 28 weeks pregnant. If you’ve had gestational diabetes before, you may be tested earlier in your pregnancy if you become pregnant again.
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How Gestational Diabetes Can Impact Your Baby
We don’t know what causes gestational diabetes, but we have some clues. The placenta supports the baby as it grows. Hormones from the placenta help the baby develop. But these hormones also block the action of the mother’s insulin in her body. This problem is called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance makes it hard for the mother’s body to use insulin. She may need up to three times as much insulin.
Gestational diabetes starts when your body is not able to make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy. Without enough insulin, glucose cannot leave the blood and be changed to energy. Glucose builds up in the blood to high levels, called hyperglycemia.
Studies Have Shown Up To One Third Of Pregnant Women In The Uae Are Diagnosed With Temporary Diabetes In Pregnancy
Around 32 weeks heralds the start of the toughest time for those with gestational diabetes. Getty
I arrived for the gestational diabetes test well prepped for the three-hour wait, having loaded my bag with carefully chosen reading material. I neednt have bothered. I had barely warmed the seat when I was told there was no need to continue. A doctor would be in touch, the lab technician said.
It didnt take long to work out what that meant. I had failed the glucose tolerance test at the first hurdle the fasting blood reading.
I called my husband and explained what had happened through the sobs. We arranged to meet at a cafe nearby, where I chose a fruit platter to eat but quickly realised I probably couldn’t eat this, either. It may be natural sugar, but it is still loaded with the stuff. Cue even more tears.
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Who’s At Risk Of Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes can cause problems for you and your baby during and after birth. However, the risk can be reduced if it’s detected and well managed.
It occurs if your body cannot produce enough insulin a hormone that helps control blood sugar levels to meet the extra needs in pregnancy. Any woman can develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
However, you’re at an increased risk if:
- your body mass index is above 30 use the healthy weight calculator to work out your BMI
- you previously had a baby who weighed 4.5kg or more at birth
- you had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
- one of your parents or siblings has diabetes
- your family origins are south Asian, Chinese, African-Caribbean or Middle Eastern
If any of these apply to you, you should be offered screening for gestational diabetes during your pregnancy.
What Is An Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
The OGTT is test used to diagnose gestational diabetes in the UK. This test may be performed at a GP surgery, or at a hospital clinic and takes place first thing in the morning.
The mother is asked to fast overnight , have a blood test upon arrival, drink a specific measured amount of sugary drink and a further blood test is taken after 2 hours .
GD UK TIP: OGTT take a long time and so it is best to take something to read and childcare if possible to avoid long boring waits at the clinic with young children. It is also worth packing a snack in your bag for after the test is complete.
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Why Is Gestational Diabetes Diagnosis Important
Having gestational diabetes means that a mothers blood sugar levels remain too high. This means that excess glucose is passed through to the growing baby and can lead to complications for both the baby and for the mother when giving birth.
Being diagnosed means that blood sugar levels can be monitored, lowered and reduce related risks
Complications caused by gestational diabetes are:
After The Baby Is Born
Once the baby is born, daily monitoring of the mothers blood sugar levels is no longer required and any medications for lowering blood sugar levels can be stopped.
In the majority of hospitals, additional to the routine newborn checks, babies born to diabetic mothers are usually monitored for hypoglycaemia . Each hospital is different as to how they monitor the blood sugar levels, but the procedure is the same.
A midwife or nurse will heel prick the baby to obtain enough blood to be tested on a blood glucose test monitor, the same as used to monitor our own blood sugar levels throughout pregnancy.
The number of tests taken can vary and the times taken, but your hospital will have a policy which they will follow.
If the babys blood sugar levels are too low, then top up feeds will be given to help raise levels. If this does not raise levels sufficiently then glucose solution or gel may be given, or if there is a greater concern, they may need to be given an intravenous fusion of glucose.
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What You Can Do To Prevent Gestational Diabetes
If your only risk factors for gestational diabetes are a family history of the disease and/or advanced maternal age, there may be nothing more you can do to prevent your chances of developing the condition.
But if you’re overweight, don’t eat a well-balanced diet or don’t routinely exercise, adopting a few healthy habits can make a big difference.
The following steps can have a big impact on reducing your risk of developing both gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes, both before you conceive and during your pregnancy: