5 Ways to Help Pregnant Women Manage Gestational Diabetes
Here are tips on what expectant moms can do to properly manage their blood sugar level and protect their unborn baby from the health complications of gestational diabetes.
Pregnancy can be an exciting new stage in a woman’s life, but carrying a child also comes with challenges and risks. At least 14% of pregnant women in the Philippines develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy, a condition that occurs when the body can’t make enough insulin.
Gestational diabetes commonly manifests in the middle of pregnancy, when the woman is between 24 and 28 weeks pregnant. While no one is spared from the risk of having diabetes during pregnancy, women who are overweight or obese, are over 25 years old, and have a family history of diabetes are more prone to developing the condition.
If left untreated, gestational diabetes can lead to problems for the mom and the baby. Also, having gestational diabetes can increase the mother’s risk of high blood pressure, which could lead to preeclampsia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this could cause seizures or a stroke in the woman during labor and delivery and in the baby being born early.
Gestational diabetes could likewise lead to stillbirth or the death of a baby after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Other health complications affecting the child may also arise after birth, including breathing problems, low blood sugar, and obesity and diabetes later in life.
Keep your blood sugar under control with these five tips:
1. Manage your weight
While women are expected to gain extra weight in pregnancy as the baby grows, it still pays to limit the amount of extra weight gain in pregnancy. It is recommended to discuss with your doctor a healthy weight management plan.
2. Eat a balanced diet
Following a healthy eating plan helps with the management of gestational diabetes. Experts recommend eating a variety of healthy foods and reading food labels to ensure that you make healthy choices every time you shop.
Pregnant women must generally eat plenty of whole fruits and vegetables. In particular, healthy vegetable choices include dark green and deep yellow vegetables like spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, carrots, and peppers while healthy fruit choices include citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits. For protein, the healthy cuts include fish, poultry (not including the skin), and lean cuts of beef and pork.
Also, pregnant women are advised to eat the following in moderation: lean proteins and healthy fats, whole grains (bread, cereal, pasta, and rice), and starchy vegetables such as corn and peas. The consumption of food types that have a lot of sugar such as fruit juices and pastries is generally discouraged.
3. Stay active
You don’t need to spend so much time sweating it out. Aiming to get 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity at least 5 days each week, can already work wonders.
According to the Eastern Virginia Medical School, “aerobic exercise will be most beneficial to blood sugar levels” as “blood sugars are usually lowered by regular, aerobic exercise.” Among the suggested exercises are walking, stationary cycling, swimming or aqua-exercise, and low-impact aerobics.
If you have children, you can actively play with them to make the activity more worthwhile! However, it’s best to seek your doctor’s go signal first before starting any activities or exercises.
4. Check your blood sugar
Don’t forget to keep track of your blood sugar to ensure that your levels stay in a healthy range. The CDC cautions that “pregnancy causes the body’s need for energy to change, blood sugar levels can change very quickly.”
5. Take your medicines
If healthy eating and staying active are not enough to manage your sugar levels, your doctor may prescribe insulin, metformin, or other medication.
Keep in mind to take your medicine as directed by your doctor to help keep your blood sugar under control.
- Gestational diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/gestational.html
- Exercise with diabetes during pregnancy - eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS), Norfolk, Hampton Roads. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.evms.edu/patient_care/specialties/maternal_fetal_medicine/s…
- Friel, L. A. (2022, July 1). Diabetes during pregnancy - women's health issues. MSD Manual Consumer Version. Retrieved from https://www.msdmanuals.com/home/women-s-health-issues/pregnancy-complic…
- Gestational diabetes. Home. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.marchofdimes.org/complications/gestational-diabetes.aspx
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.). Gestational diabetes diet: Medlineplus medical encyclopedia. MedlinePlus. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007430.htm
- View of incidence of postpartum diabetes and glucose intolerance among Filipino patients with gestational diabetes mellitus seen at a tertiary hospital: Journal of the ASEAN Federation of Endocrine Societies. Journal of the ASEAN Federation of Endocrine Societies. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.asean-endocrinejournal.org/index.php/JAFES/article/view/53/…
- Why are pregnant women prone to diabetes? St. Luke's Health. (2019, March 8). Retrieved from https://www.stlukeshealth.org/resources/why-are-pregnant-women-prone-diabetes
ABOUT THE WRITER
Marjorie Duran is a writer, content creator, fitness coach, dragon boat athlete, and a proud mom of her 2-year-old boy.
After getting her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism at the University of Santo Tomas, she started her writing career as an entertainment journalist for the Manila Bulletin. Marjorie then worked briefly as a Literature Instructor at the FEU Institute of Technology before becoming a writer for one of the Senators at the Senate of the Philippines, where she is currently employed. She has also contributed articles that have been published in several websites, such as Spin, Men’s Health and FHM.
During her free time, Marjorie also side hustles as an online fitness instructor, specializing in coaching High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). On top of this, she also manages the Facebook Page, “Fit Mom Journal,” where she shares fitness tips and various parenting content.
Marjorie may be wearing different hats all the time, but for her, being a mom is the best of them all!
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and does not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.