Gestational diabetes occurs when a pregnant woman's body does not produce sufficient amounts of insulin, which results in abnormal and/or fluctuating blood sugar levels. These blood glucose abnormalities can lead to health complications for both mother and baby: both during pregnancy and after delivery. For example, this condition can result in premature labor, low birth weight, miscarriage and increased risk of diabetes later in life.
Since gestational diabetes typically produces no symptoms, a blood glucose test is needed to diagnose the condition. Once a diagnosis is made, a doctor may give the following recommendations and treatments:
In some cases, medication is needed to treat gestational diabetes. These medications include insulin and glyburide, and are either administered orally or through injection.
Changes in Lifestyle
An increased awareness in overall health and well-being is recommended for pregnant women with diabetes. Simple lifestyle changes can make all the difference in a healthy pregnancy, labor and delivery. For example, a few healthy lifestyle choices for women with this condition include light or moderate exercise three times a week, making healthy food choices and avoiding risky behaviors.
A healthy diet is essential for pregnant women, and even more important for women with gestational diabetes. In fact, with the proper diet, most cases of this condition can be treated without the use of medication. A healthy diet for women with gestational diabetes includes the following:
- Whole Grains
Whole grains are simple carbohydrates, meaning they have a low glycemic index and are preferable for individuals with diabetes. Foods with a low glycemic index are burned more slowly by the body, and provide lasting energy without causing an increase in blood sugar levels. Choosing whole grains instead of refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and potatoes, is a great option for women with gestational diabetes.
- Healthy Protein
Protein is vital for healthy body function. Without it, the body becomes weak and unable to fight off infection or function properly. However, some proteins are healthier than others. Instead of choosing fatty and/or processed meats, opt for low-fat protein found in grilled chicken, soy and beans.
- Fresh Produce
Fresh fruits and vegetables should be the focus of any diet. For women with gestational diabetes, these foods provide even more health benefits. Fruits and veggies are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other necessary nutrients, which make them great meal and snack options.