Who is at risk for gestational diabetes?
The risk of developing gestational diabetes increases if you:
- Are older than 25 or overweight prior to pregnancy
- Have a family history of diabetes
- Show sugar (glucose) in your urine during regular prenatal checkups
- Have high blood pressure or too much amniotic fluid
- Previously delivered a baby weighing more than 9 pounds; had gestational diabetes; or had an unexplained miscarriage, stillbirth, or birth defect in a previous pregnancy
Is gestational diabetes dangerous to your baby?
Most women who have gestational diabetes give birth to healthy babies, especially if they control their blood sugar, eat a healthy diet, exercise, and maintain a healthy weight. However, diabetes during pregnancy does place your baby at risk for:
- Large birth weight, which can lead to a cesarean section or difficult delivery
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) after birth
- Respiratory distress syndrome
- Increased chance of obesity or type 2 diabetes later in life
Gestational diabetes diets: using nutrition to counter diabetes
Fortunately, a good diet with controlled carbohydrates and moderate fat and protein can help control symptoms of diabetes and regulate blood sugar. During gestational diabetes, blood glucose is controlled with a combination of tools, including a meal plan, a physical-activity plan, and insulin (if needed). Because food helps control gestational diabetes, ask your doctor for a consult with a registered dietitian to develop an eating plan. A meal plan can help you maintain optimal blood sugar levels while you are still getting the vital nutrients your body needs.
Here are a few additional tips to help manage gestational diabetes:
1NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
- Establish a regular eating schedule with three moderate meals and planned snacks throughout the day.
- Monitor blood sugar levels according to your doctor's advice.
- Limit excessive sugars by following your meal plan with regard to foods such as desserts and fruit juices.
- Get enough fiber. The fiber in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes can help control levels of sugar in the blood.
- Maintain a healthy weight, gaining only the recommended amount during pregnancy. Learn more about healthy pregnancy weight gain.
- Stay active with moderate exercise with your doctor's approval.
- Continue eating healthy after pregnancy. Women who develop gestational diabetes are at a higher risk for diabetes after pregnancy, which makes it absolutely essential to eat healthy even after delivery.
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