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You Have Gestational Diabetes, Now What? Important Information You Should Know

If you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, it is important to understand the complications, treatments, how it can potentially affect your baby, and how to prevent major complications. The complications of having gestational diabetes can include having a larger baby, having a difficult delivery due to the larger size of your baby, and too much water/amniotic fluid around baby (polyhydramnios). Polyhydramnios, or too much water in the womb, can result in early labor, difficult labor and delivery, and can make indigestion, heartburn, constipation, swollen legs, varicose veins, and stretch marks worse. Because of the increased complications of gestational diabetes, generally you will be offered additional ultrasound sessions, usually once a month starting at 28 weeks, and then every one to two weeks as you get closer to your due date.

Diet and Exercise

Generally gestational diabetes can be controlled through diet and exercise. Medication is sometimes necessary in order to keep your blood sugar lowered if diet and exercise is not enough. You will be required to have a blood sugar monitor and check your blood sugar upon waking, usually an hour after each meal and before bed time. Checking your blood sugar requires a small needle to make a pin prink on the top of one of your fingers, you can change fingers with each prick. It can seem scary at first, but the needles used are very sharp and result in little to no pain. A healthy blood sugar range is between 80-120 one hour after a meal, and under 100 upon rising. Your doctor may offer you a meal plan to regulate what you eat. Following a meal plan will help to regulate your diet and control what goes into your body.

Low Carbohydrates and Sugars

Maintaining a diet low in carbohydrates and sugars is essential. Lots of vegetables, protein and low glycemic fruits should comprise your diet. The glycemic index is a system that rates foods from 1-100 based on their effect on blood sugar. A plain white baguette is 92 on the scale (high effect on blood sugar), while peanuts and other nuts generally have a glycemic index of 7-10. One of the worst offenders on the glycemic index is the baked potato, receiving a score of 111, and when digested, is equal to eating a whole cup of sugar. You can access the glycemic index online or purchase a small book that has a complete list of all foods and their glycemic score. A good base is anything with three grams or less of sugar is fine to eat, anything more you should try and avoid as much as possible. That will help your glycemic score to be regulated.

Possibility for Early Labor

Gestational diabetes can result in early labor; however, it is possible to go to full term, but you will probably have to be induced at 40 weeks because your placenta is aging at a faster rate with gestational diabetes. During labor, your blood sugar will be monitored generally every hour and you will most likely be able to eat during labor. After birth, baby’s blood sugar will be checked immediately, if baby’s sugar is under 50, then formula supplementation will be used until baby’s blood sugar is in a healthy range. Your baby’s blood sugar will be checked every hour until it is in a safe range.

Your baby and you are more at risk for developing diabetes if you had gestational diabetes. It is important to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle after giving birth. Making exercise and a healthy diet as part of your life long lifestyle reduces your baby’s chance of getting diabetes later in life and helps model healthy behavior.

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