Gestational diabetes occurs in approximately 5% of pregnancies. Several complications arise for both the baby and the mother if gestational diabetes is left uncontrolled, including large birth weight and difficult delivery, preeclampsia (high blood pressure), and the chance of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. For the expectant mother recently diagnosed with gestational diabetes, the revelation and information regarding treatment can be overwhelming. However, there are several steps a woman can follow to minimize the complications.
Maximize Food Choices
The diet for a woman with gestational diabetes does not restrict her food, but only the amount of carbohydrates she can have throughout a day. She can choose to have a brownie or ice cream, but she must do so with the understanding of the carbohydrate count of each food item. A two-inch by two-inch square brownie, without icing, is about one carb serving. If she is on a diet which allows for three carbohydrate servings in a meal, the brownie would count as one, as would one slice of bread or a half-cup of cooked rice. When deciding on what to eat, the pregnant woman would be better served by finding the food choice which will meet her dietary requirements and nutritional needs, as well as satisfy her hunger.
Keep A Journal
One way that an expectant mother can help with the treatment of gestational diabetes is to keep a food journal with her charts of blood sugar readings. The mother can track everything eaten for each of her meals and snacks to see how well she has kept to her prescribed diet. Along with this, she should write down her blood sugar readings after each meal. This will help her chart which foods create a blood sugar spike so she can modify her diet accordingly.
Walk It Off
The experience of gestational diabetes can be stressful with the dietary changes and prescribed medications. Exercise is a key not only in helping to regulate gestational diabetes, but also to help alleviate stress. This may become more difficult as the pregnancy comes to term. However, an exercise program which keeps the doctor’s guidelines in mind will benefit both the mother and baby.
Build The Support System
Expectant mothers may feel like they live in a vacuum regarding their diagnosis, with little understanding from family and friends. In order to keep up with the treatments prescribed, the mother should bring a close family member or friend to the doctor’s appointments and meetings with the dietitian. She can cook carbohydrate-friendly meals for her family to show how one can be healthy and enjoy good food at the same time. She can also allow her family to experiment with the glucometer, taking their blood sugar readings and comparing them with hers.
A diagnosis of gestational diabetes does not have to cast a shadow over an expectant mother’s pregnancy. With these simple management tips, she can assist her doctor with controlling her blood sugar levels while enjoying all of the experiences of a healthy pregnancy.