Healthy Steps to Help You Cope with Gestational Diabetes

About 15% of Australian women will develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Despite being one of the most common complications of pregnancy, a gestational diabetes diagnosis can be very stressful and alarming due to the potential consequences. This includes excessive birth weight, preterm birth, and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes for the mother. So, even if you’re still in the preconception stage, you need to take the necessary steps to ensure enhanced perinatal outcomes -- especially if have a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes. Meanwhile, if you’re already carrying a child and have GD, there are healthy steps that will help you cope with gestational diabetes to ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Follow a Healthy Eating Plan
The best way to cope with gestational diabetes is by following a healthy eating plan. Since gestational diabetes results in high blood sugar, a healthy diet that is comprised of vegetables, whole grains and fresh fruits can help you control your glucose levels. Managing your diet also helps control your weight, which, in turn, can ensure optimal growth and weight for your baby
Your eating plan should also include foods like cheese, lean chicken and dark leafy greens since they provide you with calcium, iron, folic acid and other nutrients that are essential for a healthy pregnancy. While cravings can be hard to control, you need to avoid eating processed foods that are high in calories, fat and sugar. Small but frequent meals are also recommended to achieve normoglycaemia. 

Engage in Regular Exercise
Regular exercise can also help you cope with gestational diabetes. Aerobic exercise can lower blood sugar while strength conditioning can also help regulate your glucose levels. When it comes to pregnancy complications, regular exercise can prevent excess weight gain as well as reduce the risk of preterm birth and preeclampsia. 
Pregnant women can engage in light to moderate exercises such as brisk walking, indoor cycling, swimming, dance classes and prenatal yoga. However, you can still do most types of exercises just as long as you’re properly supervised and that you’re not overdoing it. Since exercise can lower insulin resistance, continuing with your fitness routine after pregnancy can also lower your risk of type 2 diabetes. 

Monitor Your Blood Sugar Regularly
Risk factors such as age, genetics, family history and pre-existing health conditions can make it harder for you to cope with gestational diabetes. So, even if you’re already following a healthy eating plan and engaging in regular exercise, it’s also important to monitor your blood sugar regularly. You should have a blood glucose monitor so you can monitor your levels every morning as well as before and after meals if needed. You’ll be able to see when your blood sugar levels are going up and this will allow you to make necessary adjustments as soon as possible. 

You should also have regular checkups with your doctor. Apart from monitoring your blood sugar levels, they also monitor your baby’s growth and weight. If a healthy diet and regular exercise are not enough, they might recommend additional interventions such as insulin or metformin to control your gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes can lead to serious complications for you and your baby if left untreated. However, as long as take the necessary steps in managing the condition, it’s possible to have a healthy pregnancy as well as a normal delivery. A healthy lifestyle marked by proper diet and regular exercise is the best way to cope with gestational diabetes. Apart from that, constantly monitoring your blood sugar levels can also give you a better handle on your condition. It’s also never too early. Even if you’re still in the preconception stage, these healthy steps can be very beneficial in providing you with the best possible perinatal outcomes.

Article written by Jackie Edwards 2019