Having a healthy pregnancy is the goal of every mom-to-be, but when diabetes is part of a pregnancy, including gestational diabetes, health care can become more complex.
Women that are diagnosed with diabetes prior to pregnancy have a higher risk of complications, sometimes including miscarriage or birth defects. As the pregnancy progresses, women with diabetes are at a higher risk for high blood pressure, preeclampsia, eclampsia, preterm and prolonged labor and cesarean section.
Approximately 9 percent of women have gestational diabetes, and for these women, their babies have a higher risk for high birth weight and shoulder dystocia, a complication during delivery. Babies born with low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) will most likely be cared for in the NICU for a few days.
However, with a plan and some healthy strategies, you can manage your diabetes, have a healthy pregnancy, and deliver a beautifully healthy baby.
Here are some suggestions that can help:
1. If Possible... See Your Women's Center Health Care Provider Prior to Becoming Pregnant
If you have diabetes and plan to conceive, you should talk to your doctor to make sure your A1C levels are normal, talk about medication if it’s necessary or asks for a referral to a nutritionist. Women with Type 1 diabetes should ask their doctors about a kidney function test, a thyroid test, and an eye exam.
2. Lose Weight
Starting out your pregnancy at a healthy weight way to ensure you will have a healthy pregnancy. If your pregnancy was unplanned, and you’re carrying around more weight than you’d like to, not to worry, you can still have a healthy baby, and weight control can begin upon the realization that you are pregnant.
Eating more vegetables is always a wise decision, and avoiding excessive amounts of sugars and sweeteners, preservatives, processed foods, and those high in saturated fats can all really positively affect your weight during pregnancy.
3. Increase Your Level of Activity
Exercise will help you metabolize food better, control blood glucose levels and help you manage your weight during and after pregnancy, The CDC recommends pregnant women get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week.
4. Count Those Carbs
When planning your meals, fond out how many carbohydrates are in the food you eat and then gauge the amount you eat. Carbohydrates will raise your blood sugar, and during pregnancy carbohydrates can be extra tempting. This is especially important if you have Type 1 diabetes because you have to dose insulin amounts based on carbohydrates.
5. Don’t Pass Up the Veggies
Vegetables are filled with phytonutrients and fiber that can help curb your appetite. They also can help digestion and prevent excess weight gain. They are low in calories and low in carbohydrates so your blood sugar won’t be affected. Look for non-starchy vegetables like lettuce, carrots, cucumber, and broccoli. This goes for before, during and after your pregnancy, because good health decisions like eating more vegetables are always wise.
6. Dealing with Morning Sickness
Eating every two to three hours during the day can actually help keep nausea somewhat under control. If you take insulin or pills, eat a few saltine crackers before getting out of bed in the morning and then take your medication to make sure you can keep food down. When you feel better, still practice this wise habit… getting back to “feeling non-sick: can be a challenge. A small source of fast-acting carbohydrates such as glucose tablets, honey, or juice can help if your blood glucose levels are low. Then have breakfast that includes a healthy protein source like eggs or plain Greek yogurt.
7. Watch What You Drink
It’s important to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated during pregnancy. Be sure to avoid juice - especially grapefruit juice, which us ultra acidic. Soda, sports drinks and sweeteners in coffee and tea should also be limited.
8. Let Yourself Indulge
Unless your health care provider guides you otherwise, it’s probably OK to enjoy a slice of pumpkin pie or a handful of holiday cookies. However, make sure to manage the total amount of carbohydrates you’ll be eating with dessert, as you may need to compensate with medication. If you are craving dessert, consider having a salad instead of a sandwich as your meal, and consider requesting a sliver of pie, not half the pie!
9. Use Technology
Look for apps that help you log blood sugar, food or count carbs and sensors and continuous blood glucose monitors. With iOS and Android apps are plentiful and easy to utilize for your pregnancy health.
10. Continue With Care
It’s been said that all gestational diabetes is undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes. In fact, studies show 35 to 60 percent of women with gestational diabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes within 5 to 10 years. If you have gestational diabetes, it’s important to talk to your doctor about monitoring your blood glucose and making lifestyle changes after your pregnancy.
11. Get Support
It’s important to realize that you will need a plan in order to make healthy lifestyle choices for you and your baby. The Women’s Center of Orlando has the finest in women’s health care providers, facilities and knowledge in delivering joy, convenience, and peace of mind! Call us at 407.857.2502 and you’ll find out why we are the leading OBGYN practice in the Greater Orlando region.