Once diagnosed with gestational diabetes, treatment for the pregnant woman will begin quickly. The first thing your doctor will do is counsel you to visit with both an endocrinologist or perinatologist and a nutritionist. Your team of specialists will work with you with the ultimate goal of lowering your blood sugar levels to those that are considered in a normal range for pregnancy.
Some women can control their blood sugars through a special low-carbohydrate diet and exercise, while other pregnant women will require either oral medications or insulin injections to help lower blood sugar levels. All pregnant women however, will be advised to follow a special diet comprised of meals and snacks with a carefully monitored carbohydrate level. In addition, testing your blood sugar levels on a regular basis may be required.
Your special diet will include plenty of whole grains rich in fiber, as well as ensuring that you consume some protein with each meal to help deter blood sugar fluctuations. Exercise may also be advocated, as this will help your body to use the extra glucose without having to take insulin shots. This will also help avoid insulin resistance.
Carbohydrates or other foods high in starch or sugar, are turned into glucose during digestion, therefore they have the highest impact on blood sugar levels and consumption needs to be strictly counted. The nutritionist or dietician will counsel you on how many carbohydrates you should be consuming at each meal and snack, and will educate you on what kinds of foods are better sources of carbohydrates than others.
Eating at the same time each day and not skipping meals or snacks will help maintain blood sugar levels, and eating fewer carbohydrates at breakfast is always a good idea because that is the time of day when typically insulin resistance is at its greatest. Women with gestational diabetes should avoid fruit and fruit juices at breakfast for this very reason.
Reading nutritional labels will become second nature to the woman with gestational diabetes. Every food has the potential to contain carbohydrates, and it is only by looking at the nutritional information that these can be accurately counted. Likewise, it is helpful to have a kitchen scale on hand for measuring weights so that you can get an exact number of carbohydrates per serving.
While having gestational diabetes is certainly a concern, most women easily manage it with the help of their health care team. Careful monitoring of blood sugar levels will reduce the chances of any adverse affects on the baby, and will help ensure continued good health for the mother as well.