Poorly controlled Gestational Diabetes can cause problems for the baby and the mother. Some of the complications of diabetes during pregnancy are hypoglycemia, higher chances of C-section and a very large baby at birth.
Treatment of gestational diabetes works to keep the blood sugar levels at normal levels. A combination of following a strict diet plan, daily monitoring of blood glucose levels and regular exercise works for most women. However some women may need medication or daily insulin injections to keep the sugar levels in the normal range.
Diet Plan for Gestational Diabetes
Getting good nutrition is important during pregnancy, especially when the pregnant woman has diabetes, since taking too much food and too little food can both harm the baby. Too much food can cause high sugar levels and the problems associated with it.
If food consumption is too low, the body burns fat to produce energy. Ketones, which are by-products of burning fat, can harm the baby’s I.Q and ability to learn. The diabetes.org website highly recommends daily ketone testing to check the presence of ketones in urine for diabetic patients who are on a restricted diet.
The doctor or a registered dietitian will work with the woman affected with gestational diabetes to develop a food plan which will provide the right nutrition to the pregnant woman. Here are some tips for healthy eating:
- Eat three small meals and three snacks at about the same time every day.
- Eat food from each food group every day.
- Breakfast should contain less carbohydrates than other meals because this is when insulin resistance is at the highest.
- Avoid foods which are higher in carbohydrates but do not provide any nutrition, like soda, chips etc.
- Eat fibre-rich foods. Include more whole grains, vegetables and fruits which are high in fibre in the diet.
- Include more complex carbohydrates in the diet.
Carbohydrate counting is a technique which helps in controlling blood sugar levels by counting the carbohydrates in a meal. Carbohydrates are counted in units called “carbohydrate choices.” A carbohydrate choice or a standard portion contains about 15 grams of carbohydrate.
Since the amount of carbohydrates in the food affects blood sugar levels than any other food type, carbohydrate counting is the best way to manage gestational diabetes. Knowing how much carbohydrate is in one serving helps in limiting the carbohydrate intake. It also helps in spreading the amount of carbohydrates through out the day and prevents the spiking of glucose levels in the blood after meals.
One way to count carbs is to read the labels in packaged food products. Look for the the number of grams of carbohydrates and divide that number by 15 to get the number of carbohydrate choices in one serving.
Keeping active is another way to control and manage gestational diabetes. Exercise helps in burning glucose and at the same time improves the production of in insulin.