How To Reduce Blood Sugar In Gestational Diabetes – Content Author: Dr. Nikita Toshi, BDS, Assistant Director (Medical Assessment), Dr. Ritu Budania, MBBS, Head of the Department of Medicine (Pharmacy), Medical Affairs and Dr. Sc. Ami Shah PG Clinical Nutrition (Heart & Diabetes), Registered Dietitian and Diabetes Educator
Pregnancy is a very happy time in a woman’s life. But as the body adjusts to the development and nutrition of the baby, it becomes important to monitor the health of the mother as well as the fetus in order to avoid any complications during pregnancy. And if the mother has diabetes, it is likely that this will affect the health of the baby. There may be a lot of unnecessary advice from friends and family that will only excite the expectant mother. So instead of listening to the naysayers, learn a little more about gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is a condition associated with pregnancy. Although gestational diabetes can negatively affect the mother and fetus, research has shown that eating a healthy diet for gestational diabetes can help a mother manage her pregnancy and have a great deal of control over the situation.
But before we dive into the details of the diet for gestational diabetes, let’s first delve into some of the issues associated with it. Questions such as what is gestational diabetes, some of the symptoms of gestational diabetes, risk factors and causes of gestational diabetes, and then how to treat gestational diabetes with a healthy diet.
Gestational diabetes, also known as gestational diabetes, is a condition in which a woman develops diabetes, or high blood sugar, during pregnancy. As one of the three types of diabetes, gestational diabetes can occur regardless of whether a pregnant woman had diabetes before pregnancy.
However, it often happens in people who have never had diabetes before. Having gestational diabetes during pregnancy also does not mean that you will still have high sugar levels after delivery. For many women, it goes away shortly after giving birth. But, unfortunately, if you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, your chances of developing type 2 diabetes in the future are higher.
Gestational diabetes usually occurs towards the end of the second trimester, especially between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy. As a rule, at the end of the second trimester, a diabetes doctor will usually perform a test for gestational diabetes as a precautionary measure. If gestational diabetes is not treated or diagnosed, it can increase your baby’s risk of developing diabetes in the future. Therefore, if we treat it on time, it will be better to minimize the risk and complications of gestational diabetes during pregnancy and childbirth. In these cases, a dietitian assigned by a gestational diabetes dietitian can be of great help in controlling the mother’s blood sugar and keeping the baby safe.
In this chapter, we look at some of the complications of gestational diabetes and how they affect the baby. Complications can harm the growing baby, which is why early diagnosis is so important to help manage their effects during pregnancy. The mother-to-be, as well as her baby, may experience complications from gestational diabetes. Here are a few ways that gestational diabetes can affect your baby:
Birth weight is above normal. High blood sugar during pregnancy can cause their baby to grow larger than usual. This is a type of complication of gestational diabetes that can lead to birth trauma or an emergency caesarean section because the baby is less likely or unable to pass through the birth canal unhindered.
Premature birth. This is closely related to higher birth weights, where a woman will be forced to give birth sooner than due to the baby’s large size.
Shortness of breath is a serious complication of gestational diabetes, in which the infant may develop respiratory distress syndrome shortly after birth, a serious condition that interferes with breathing.
Low blood sugar. Although gestational diabetes is associated with high blood sugar levels, some babies may experience the opposite shortly after birth. Too low blood sugar can cause frequent seizures in children. However, controlled feeding sessions and intermittent intravenous glucose solutions can be used to treat low blood sugar during labor.
Obesity in the future. Children born to mothers with gestational diabetes are more likely to develop obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life.
Stillbirth. Untreated and uncontrolled gestational diabetes during pregnancy can eventually lead to the death of the baby before or shortly after birth.
While we have seen how gestational diabetes in a pregnant woman poses a risk to the baby, it can also affect the pregnant mother. Let’s look at some of the complications of gestational diabetes that can harm the mother:
High blood pressure. Mothers with gestational diabetes are at increased risk for high blood pressure and preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a complication of pregnancy that usually develops at 20 weeks or even after childbirth. If left untreated, it can lead to high blood pressure, headaches, blurred vision, protein in the urine, fluid retention, and organ damage that can be life-threatening for mother and baby. This can cause growth problems in the child as they get older. Although the cause of preeclampsia is still unclear, it is often associated with problems with the placenta.
Childbirth by caesarean section. While not actually a complication of gestational diabetes, because of the increased weight and size of the baby, mothers diagnosed with gestational diabetes are more likely to have a caesarean section than a vaginal delivery.
Diabetes at a later date. Having a history of gestational diabetes can cause the mother to have it again during another pregnancy. There is also an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.
Unfortunately, the exact cause of gestational diabetes is still unknown. However, the female endocrine system is thought to play a role in the cause. But, as far as we know, the cause of gestational diabetes is not a lack of insulin, but the production of some other hormones during pregnancy, which reduce the effectiveness of insulin in the body. During pregnancy, immediately after conception, the body begins to produce large amounts of pregnancy-specific hormones that help the development of the baby.
So, what is the role of insulin in our body? Its job is to direct blood sugar to the cells, which is then converted into energy. It is normal to develop mild insulin resistance during pregnancy because blood glucose is also passed on to the baby. On the other hand, increased insulin resistance can cause abnormally high blood sugar levels, causing gestational diabetes.
Many pregnant women experience no unusual symptoms or signs of gestational diabetes. This is why we often leave gestational diabetes unnoticed. Gynecologists usually test for gestational diabetes at the end of the second trimester to provide them with information about the condition with or without the condition.
On the other hand, some pregnant women may complain of mild symptoms very similar to other forms of diabetes. Some common signs of gestational diabetes include:
While all pregnant women are usually screened for gestational diabetes regardless of symptoms, the moment you notice any of the above symptoms at or before 12-16 weeks, it is important that you see a diabetes doctor for making an accurate diagnosis. Yes, every pregnant woman feels tired. After all, holding a child in your arms is not a man’s job! But just in case, it is better to consult a doctor.
If gestational diabetes is confirmed, your gynecologist, in addition to regular checkups, will recommend medication, diabetes supplements, light exercise, and/or a strict diet. Depending on your situation, to help lower your blood sugar.
Everyone has their own version of what to eat during pregnancy. So it’s best to ignore them and do what’s best for you. Visit a nutritionist and learn about your dietary needs. And if you’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, a dietitian can help you manage your blood sugar levels.
The best diet for gestational diabetes is a balanced diet that includes the appropriate carbohydrates, proteins, and fats recommended to maintain optimal blood sugar levels. Blood sugar often tends to spike when too much processed sugar is consumed or when carbohydrate-rich foods are unevenly distributed throughout the day. Your dietitian or nutritionist can help you figure out which diet for gestational diabetes you need based on your blood sugar readings. They should be able to tell you exactly how many carbs you need to eat daily.
Whole grain products. Include foods rich in whole grains, such as oats, millet, barley, quinoa, and sorghum, in your gestational diabetes diet plan. They are rich in fiber and have a low glycemic index. They support healthy intestinal motility and help reduce the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes in the long term.
Leafy vegetables and legumes – includes vegetables such as beans, peas, lentils, corn, spinach, lettuce, etc.
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