Diabetes is currently a global epidemic, and that certainly doesn’t exclude gestational diabetes. Approximately 2 to 10 percent of pregnant women will have the condition, and women who experience gestational diabetes have a 35 to 60 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes within the next 10 to 20 years.
These are scary statistics, and though you can’t change your genetic predisposition to diabetes, there is a lot you CAN do to manage gestational diabetes and prevent diabetes in the future.
Symptoms of gestational diabetes are subtle, and you may not experience any noticeable changes. The two most common symptoms are:
- Excessive thirst
- Increased urination
Can diet control gestational diabetes?
In most cases, gestational diabetes can be controlled through careful diet and lifestyle changes. This will require lots of dedication on your part, and plenty of support from family and friends in your efforts.
Your doctor or midwife will want to monitor your blood sugar closely, and you will also need to monitor your blood sugar at home. If you are offered the chance to speak with a diabetes educator or specialist, take it. If not, ask for a referral. An educator can take you step by step through how to check your blood sugar, what the numbers mean, and how to control it with diet. You may also wish to meet with a nutritionist who can teach you how to eat properly.
Monitor your blood sugar
With gestational diabetes, it’s not only your health you have to worry about, but your baby’s as well. You may not be experiencing symptoms, which is why it’s especially important that you monitor your blood sugar closely. Letting your blood sugar go unchecked could lead to health issues for your unborn baby or yourself.
A healthy diet lays the foundation for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy life. It is the single most important change that can impact your chances of developing diabetes. But just eating “healthy” may not be enough. You will need to learn a lot about the different kinds of sugars and carbohydrates and how they are handled by the body.
Many women with gestational diabetes or a history of gestational diabetes have had luck with the Brewer Diet, which puts emphasis on plenty of protein, fruits, and vegetables.
Staying active during your pregnancy can also help you control your blood sugar. Talk with your diabetes educator to find out what types of activities are best, and how they fit in with your new diet plan.
If, after diet and lifestyle changes, you still cannot get your blood sugar under control, your best bet is to use insulin to control your gestational diabetes. Your doctor and diabetes specialist will help to prescribe the correct dosage and monitor your insulin use carefully.
If you truly need insulin, do not put it off. There is no shame in accepting this medication if it is needed. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can be very damaging to your and your baby’s health, so it’s better to get the medication you need rather than risk it.
Plan to breastfeed if possible
Breastfeeding lowers your risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life, and can help you lose the extra pounds after your baby is born. Healthy diet and lifestyle will still be very important in the postpartum months.
Try to look at this time as a wake up call, a time to make lasting changes for you and your family that will impact your health for the better, now and for years to come.