diabetes, which causes higher than normal blood sugar levels to be present,
occurs during pregnancy.
diabetes testing usually occurs between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. If you
have risk factors for diabetes, your doctor may recommend testing earlier in
the pregnancy. If you have a gestational diabetes diagnosis, you’ll need testing
six to 12 weeks after giving birth to see whether the diabetes is still
present. Gestational diabetes usually resolves after you deliver, although you’re
at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
According to Johns
Hopkins Medicine, gestational diabetes affects 1 of 10 pregnant women. Gestational
diabetes increases the risk of having a large baby, which may cause problems
with delivery. It also increases the risk of having a baby born with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Respiratory distress, jaundice, and low calcium and magnesium levels are also
more common in babies whose mothers have gestational diabetes. There’s a higher
risk of your baby developing diabetes later in life as well. Changing your diet
is generally the first method of treatment for gestational diabetes.
The amount of
calories you should consume each day depends on a number of factors, such as
your weight and activity level. Pregnant women should generally increase their calorie
consumption by 300 calories per day from their prepregnancy diet. Doctors
recommend three meals and two to three snacks per day. Eating smaller meals
more frequently can help you keep your blood sugar levels stable.
will likely recommend that you monitor your blood sugar levels to help assess
blood sugar levels and manage gestational diabetes.
blood sugar after meals tells you how that meal affected your blood sugar. Your
doctor will let you know what your blood sugar levels should be. General
recommendations during pregnancy are to keep sugar levels no higher than 95
mg/dL before eating, no higher than 140 mg/dL one hour after eating, and no
higher than 120 mg/dL two hours after eating.
You may notice
that your blood sugar levels are higher in the morning even though you haven’t eaten.
This is because hormones released in the night can raise your fasting blood
sugar. Eating a snack before bed can help some people. For others, managing the
carbohydrates eaten at breakfast is important. Testing your blood sugar levels
can help you and your doctor figure out the best meal plan for you.
recommend that pregnant women take a prenatal multivitamin, iron supplement, or
calcium supplement. This can help you meet the higher requirements of some
vitamins and minerals during pregnancy, and help the baby develop normally.
are the body’s main source of energy.
are what raise blood sugar. You should carefully monitor the amount of
carbohydrate you eat with your meals. Measure portions so you know how much you’re
eating. Record your portions at each meal and snack so you can adjust your diet
if your blood sugar levels are out of range. However, eating too few
carbohydrates can also cause problems. That’s why good tracking and record
keeping are key.
You can track
carbohydrates by either counting grams of carbohydrates at each meal and snack
or tracking the servings of carbohydrates. Talk to your doctor for more
You should try
to consume carbohydrates with each meal and snack to spread carbohydrate
consumption throughout the day. This can help keep your blood sugar levels
stable and avoid blood sugar spikes.
Starches and grains provide
carbohydrates to the body. It’s best to choose starches that are high in fiber
and made with whole grains. Not only are these types of carbohydrates more
nutritious, but your body also digests them more slowly. Good choices include:
grain bread and crackers
rice and pasta, quinoa, buckwheat, or amaranth
such as black beans or kidney beans
vegetables, such as potatoes and corn
Milk and yogurt also
provide carbohydrates to the body. Milk counts as part of your total
carbohydrates during a meal. Milk is a valuable part of a meal plan because it
provides a good amount of calcium. Calcium is important for bone health. Low-fat
dairy may be a better choice if you’re trying to manage your weight gain during
pregnancy. Soy milk is an option for vegetarians or people who have lactose intolerance.
Soy milk also has carbohydrates. Almond milk isn’t a carbohydrate source and
may help you if you need to limit your carbohydrate at a particular meal but
still want a milk-type product. Be sure to pick the unsweetened varieties of
these milks to manage your carbohydrate intake.
carbohydrates and are part of the total carbohydrate content of your meal or
snack. Whole fruits are high in fiber and preferred over juices or canned
fruits packed in sugar.
provide carbohydrates. While you don’t need to completely avoid sweets, you
should monitor your intake of these foods closely as they can raise your blood
sugar more quickly than higher fiber, more complex carbohydrates. Sweets often
have more carbohydrates in a smaller serving than other carbohydrate foods.
also provide carbohydrates to the body. The amount of carbohydrates can be
negligible, as is the case with options like greens or broccoli, or they can
contain a significant amount of carbohydrates, as is the case with starchy
vegetables such as potatoes, corn, and peas. Be sure to check the carbohydrate
content of your vegetables so you know how much carbohydrate you are eating.
to consume a wide variety of vegetables to get the nutrients needed for both
mother and baby. Eat three to five servings of vegetables each day.
One serving of
vegetables is equal to one of the following:
cup leafy vegetables
cup chopped vegetables
cup vegetable juice
specifically try to eat dark green and yellow vegetables. Veggies with these
colors contain more nutrients.
Protein is an
essential component of a healthy diet. Most protein sources don’t have
carbohydrates and won’t raise blood sugar, but be sure to check vegetarian
sources of protein, such as beans and legumes, which can contain carbohydates.
with gestational diabetes require two to three servings of protein each day. One
serving of protein is equal to one of the following:
ounces cooked meat
tablespoons nut butter
cup Greek yogurt
To reduce fat
intake, eat lean cuts of meat with no visible skin and fat.
raise blood sugar because they don’t have carbohydrates. However, they are a
concentrated source of calories. If you’re trying to manage your weight gain,
you may want to manage your fat intake. Healthy fats are essential. Nuts,
seeds, avocado, olive and canola oil, and flaxseeds are just a few examples of
healthy fats. For overall health, limit saturated fats such as lard and bacon,
and trans fats. Trans fats primarily appear in processed foods.