A Sweet Nine Months – Managing Gestational Diabetes with Balanced Pregnancy Diet
Managing Gestational Diabetes with a Balanced Pregnancy Diet
While those nine months of pregnancy bring in its wake an amazing bonding with your unborn child, it may also sometimes bring with it a not so pleasant condition known as ‘Gestational Diabetes’.
What is Gestational Diabetes all about?
For that we need to first understand the role insulin plays in our bodies. Insulin is a hormone that controls the blood sugar levels in our system. When we eat, our digestive system breaks most of the food down into a type of sugar called glucose. The glucose enters our bloodstream and then, with the help of insulin (a hormone secreted by your pancreas), our cells use the glucose as fuel. However, if the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, too much glucose remains in the blood stream, instead of moving into the cells and getting converted to energy. A lack of insulin, or an inability to adequately respond to insulin, can each lead to the development of the symptoms of diabetes
During pregnancy, a number of hormonal changes take place in an expectant mother’s body, thus, making her cells less responsive to insulin. That is one of the sole reasons why, even though you’ve had a normal level of sugar all along, a lot of women tend to see a spike in their blood sugar levels during pregnancy or in other words develop a condition called, ‘Gestational Diabetes’.
However, one of the main factors for concern here is that Gestational Diabetes does not show until around the third trimester. This could be a cause of concern because, even though it does not cause any deformities, Gestational Diabetes could harm your baby by leading to something called Macrosomia. This is a condition wherein your baby could turn out to be a large baby, due the high levels of glucose in your body, which are in turn being passed on to your child. Due to its big size, your baby might face a certain other problems such as:
- Injuries during delivery due to its size
- Temporary breathing problems
- Pre-term birth
Therefore, it is always better to stay safe than sorry and watch out for a few Gestational Diabetes symptoms like:
- a dry mouth with increased thirst
- needing to urinate frequently, especially at night
- recurrent infections, such as thrush (a yeast infection)
- blurred vision
What can be done?
While oral medication is something doctors keep a pregnant woman off, there are many other things an expectant mother with Gestational Diabetes may do. The most beneficial and recommended solutions to deal effectively with the condition would be a healthy pregnancy diet and a proper exercise regime. Apart from keeping your blood sugar levels low, both of these will ensure a healthy baby as well as help prevent diabetes in the future. Let us have an in depth look at how one may try and effectively manage Gestational Diabetes.
A half an hours walk or light exercises would help your body use insulin better and keep blood sugar levels under control. Swimming and yoga are also great options, plus they’ve got oodles of other benefits.
Eat balanced meals
A healthy, balanced pregnancy diet can do wonders in controlling your blood sugar levels. While foods like potatoes, rice, grains, pasta etc. that are high in carbs should be limited, foods like sweets, honey, pastries, cookies, soft drinks and that contain sugar are a complete no-no. This would even mean cutting down on your intake of fruit and too much fruit could end up doing you more harm than good. Hence, limit your intake of fruit to just one per day. Keep your diet high in fibre, vitamins and minerals. Lots of vegetables, salads, dals, chicken, eggs, sprouts and other foods high in protein are also highly beneficial. Another trick here would be to eat smaller, more frequent meals.
Monitor your blood sugar levels
Regularly checking blood sugar levels is something you must do, should you have Gestational Diabetes. Check your fasting blood sugar first thing in the morning, before you have had anything to eat or drink. Also check your blood sugar one hour after starting to eat your three main meals i.e. breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Get regular medical check-ups
Visit your doctor regularly to see if your baby and you are doing well and to ensure that your blood sugar levels are not acting up.
If all else fails in bringing down the blood sugar levels, then insulin needs to be administered to the mother. However, in the meanwhile, do all it takes to make this the last resort.
Thus, while every mother wishes to have a smooth, uncomplicated pregnancy, that may not always be the case. However, with a balanced pregnancy diet, regular excercise and general awareness you are not far away from having a smiling pregnancy and a wonderful nine months ahead!