Staying Healthy with Gestational Diabetes

When you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you may feel scared for your child or lost without knowing where to begin. But always know that your gestational diabetes can be controlled and outcomes for your child will significantly improve if you stick to a diligent routine of eating, monitoring your blood sugar, and exercise. Though medications may be necessary depending on your individual hormone fluctuations, many women find their overall health is better than usual when following a routine like this during and even after pregnancy.

Here are some things to keep in mind to keep yourself healthy and strong during and beyond your pregnancy:

  • Emphasize a consistent schedule of daily meals and snacks.
  • Distribute food intake over three meals and several snacks for prevention of low blood sugar if you are taking injections of insulin.
  • Keep carbohydrate intake consistent in order to establish the correct insulin dose needed.
  • Daily food records plus pre meal and post meal blood glucose values are very useful for evaluating how to adjust insulin and meals.
  • Increased pregnancy hormone levels can explain gradually increasing blood glucose levels, especially in the third trimester.

After birth, you are not in the clear. The chance for getting diabetes in the first 5 years after giving birth is 27% higher than women without a diagnosis of gestational diabetes, and around 50% higher in the first 10 years postpartum.

From the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health
  • If your diabetes during pregnancy is controlled, this reduces your risk of getting diabetes soon after pregnancy.
  • Regular checkups and annual A1C checks are important to screen for diabetes postpartum.

An example of a meal plan for appropriate portions of the food groups is shown below.

Sample Eating Plan Using the Food Exchange List System for GDM:

Food Category Breakfast Lunch Dinner Morning & Afternoon Snacks** Bedtime Snack
Carbohydrate (grain/starch) 1-2 2-3 2-3 0 1
vegetable 1-2 3 3 0-1 0-1
Protein 1-2 2-3 2-3 1 1
Fat 1 1-2 1-2 0-1 0-1
Milk or Yogurt 0 0 0 1 0-1
Fruit 0 0 0 1 0
**Remember also that physical activity is also important after each main meal to keep glucose steady.

Because glucose tends to fluctuate a lot from day to day given hormone changes during pregnancy, an intensive glucose monitoring schedule is also recommended.

If you plan to have another baby, keep in mind that you are more likely to get gestational diabetes again. Ask your doctor and diabetes educator if there are any lifestyle changes and monitoring that would help you avoid that.

If you have gestational diabetes, the key for a healthy baby is to follow the diet your Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator provide. Checking your blood sugars before and after meals can help the Health Care Team adjust your medication or modify your diet. Keeping detailed food logs can also be important for the Health Care Team to know how to adjust your diet and medications. Sweet Success is the ultimate goal for a healthy baby.

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