Gestational Diabetes is a relatively common condition that occurs in pregnant women. In this post, we’ll look at the diagnosis and treatment as well as the best gestational diabetes diet if you are diagnosed with this condition.
What Is Gestational Diabetes and How Is It Diagnosed?
Gestational Diabetes is a form of diabetes that only occurs during pregnancy. It will usually not harm your baby. However, you do need to alter your diet to ensure you stay healthy.
After your baby is born, your symptoms will disappear but it does leave you with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Diabetes occurs when your pancreas is making more insulin than your body can use. During pregnancy, the placenta creates more hormones in your body that can lead to a buildup of glucose in your blood, and that causes gestational diabetes.
Between your 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy, your doctor may perform regular blood tests to diagnose gestational diabetes. A glucose challenge test and/or an oral glucose tolerance test may be conducted.
What Are the Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes?
Pregnant women rarely experience symptoms of Gestational Diabetes, and the condition is usually found by regular blood tests.
However, on rare occasions, women may experience increased thirst and increased appetite and food consumption. You may also feel the need to urinate more than usual.
If you’re pregnant and experiencing any of these symptoms, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible. Also, if you have a history of diabetes in your family or if you were overweight before you became pregnant, you may need to keep a closer eye on your blood sugar levels.
How Is Gestational Diabetes Treated?
If you’ve received a diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes, your doctor will make a few recommendations.
You will need to check your blood sugar levels 4 or more times a day and you may need to do a regular urine test to check your ketone levels. Ketone is a substance that is created when your body is unable to use glucose for energy.
Your doctor will also recommend that you have regular exercise and change your eating habits to a healthy gestational diabetes diet.
What Is a Gestational Diabetes Diet?
Keeping yourself as healthy as possible while pregnant should be your main focus. It is the best way to avoid developing Gestational Diabetes. There are dietary changes you can make when you are trying to conceive or after your pregnancy is confirmed. These changes become essential if you are diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes.
Increase Your Protein Intake
Include a variety of lean protein-rich foods in your diet. These work well alongside a regulated carbohydrate intake. Protein-rich foods include:
As with all dietary regimes, it is important that you eat a balanced combination of food types.
Monitor and Regulate Your Carbohydrate Intake
A good way to ensure your blood sugar levels don’t spike is to space out your carbohydrate intake between your daily meals.
According to the American Diabetes Association, if you have Gestational Diabetes, you should eat three small-to-moderate meals a day along with two to four snacks.
It’s a good idea to eat complex carbohydrates that are high in fiber such as peas, whole grains and starchy vegetables.
The adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day becomes even more important when you have Gestational Diabetes. Your breakfast should be full of protein and fiber, and it is essential that you do not skip meals.
Include Unsaturated Fats in Your Diet
Unsaturated fats are good for you and can be found in plants. Other sources include:
If you’re unsure of what type of fat is in a food item, read the nutritional information provided on the packaging.
Include Low Glycemic Index Foods in Your Diet
Foods that have a low glycemic index (GI) count are those that break down slowly in your body.
Eating foods that have a low glycemic load is another crucial factor in a gestational diabetes diet. A count of 10 or lower on the index is a good range for women with Gestational Diabetes or anyone else that is experiencing high blood sugar levels.
Low glycemic index foods include:
Low GI foods take considerably longer to release sugar into the body than carbohydrates do.
Foods You Should Avoid on a Gestational Diabetes Diet
By the time you have received a diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes, you may already have a list of foods you should not eat. However, if you’re trying to avoid the condition from developing, we suggest you stay away from the following:
Sugary Foods You Should Avoid
Some fruit juices are naturally high in sugar, so make sure you drink these in moderation.
Avoid Hidden Sugars and Carbohydrates
It is not always obvious which foods contain sugars and carbohydrates, so make sure you check the nutritional information on packaging at all times.
Starchy Foods You Should Avoid
Starchy foods, such as white potatoes, white rice, white pasta, and white bread, are high in carbohydrates. If you can’t avoid them completely, we strongly suggest that you limit your intake as much as possible.
It is a good idea to consider switching to products that are made from wheat meal or wholegrain flour instead.
Complications that Can Occur Due to Gestational Diabetes
If managed properly, Gestational Diabetes can be controlled, and you will have no further problems with your blood sugar levels once you have given birth.
However, due to family history and other factors you may experience some complications.
Potential Complications of Gestational Diabetes for Yourself
One of the main concerns for you is that you have an increased risk of developing preeclampsia. This is a condition that increases your blood pressure and contributes to poor blood flow to your baby.
As previously mentioned, you have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later on in life, and there is a good chance you will develop Gestational Diabetes with any further pregnancies.
There is a chance that your baby may be large enough to create the need for a caesarian section.
Potential Complications for Gestational Diabetes for Your Baby
There is a chance that your baby may be born prematurely, and a small chance that your baby may be stillborn.
As we mentioned, your baby may grow to a larger size before birth, and may experience more birth trauma than a baby that is born from a mother who does not have Gestational Diabetes.
Your baby may experience problems in breathing after being born, but your medical team will keep a close eye on this. Your baby may also develop jaundice and have low blood glucose.
There is an increased chance of your baby developing juvenile diabetes, but this is not always the case.
Should You Follow a Gestational Diabetes Diet After Giving Birth?
Many women have no further problems with their blood sugar levels after giving birth. However, looking after yourself, particularly in those first few weeks after giving birth, is essential.
Make sure that you have your blood sugar levels tested six weeks after having your baby. During this time, it is important that your diet contains plenty of fruit, grains, and vegetables. You should also ensure that you have at least 30 minutes of exercise per day.
Postpartum depression is a real risk for any mother, but you may have an increased risk if you have had Gestational Diabetes. Postpartum depression can be treated. However, so make sure that you know the symptoms and consult your doctor if you suspect you might be developing depression.
Symptoms of postpartum depression can include problems sleeping, loss of appetite, anxiety, overwhelming exhaustion, and thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.