6 Tips for Women with Gestational Diabetes

Nov 02, 2023
6 Tips for Women with Gestational Diabetes
Most women sail through pregnancy without a hitch, but if complications arise, it’s best to catch them early. Gestational diabetes is one of those potential problems. Here’s what you need to know to keep you and your baby safe.

It’s American Diabetes Month®, a time when the medical community raises awareness of this all-too-common condition. Most know about type 1 and type 2 diabetes, but there’s another form that affects only pregnant women: gestational diabetes. 

Board-certified OB/GYN Dr. Diana Heard at Glendale Obstetrics and Gynecology, PC, in Glendale, Arizona, is passionate about preventing pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes. If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, high-quality prenatal care is your best bet for ensuring a problem-free journey, and staying informed is key. Here’s what Dr. Heard wants you to know about gestational diabetes prevention and management.

Understanding gestational diabetes

You’ve probably heard the term gestational diabetes during your pregnancy journey, especially if you've had your fair share of prenatal check-ups. You may be wondering, Just what is gestational diabetes, and why should I care about it?

While you’re pregnant, your body goes through many changes. One of these changes may cause your cells to give the cold shoulder to insulin, an important hormone that keeps your blood sugar levels in check. When this happens, your sugar levels can go up, leading to gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes affects up to 10% of pregnancies in the United States each year, but it’s a temporary condition that typically resolves after giving birth.

If you develop gestational diabetes, we can help you manage it, but if left unchecked, gestational diabetes complicates your pregnancy and your baby's health. The good news is that most women who keep their gestational diabetes under control end up delivering healthy babies. The trick is to work closely with Dr. Heard to control your blood sugar levels, ensuring everything goes smoothly for you and your little one.

Just because you have gestational diabetes during pregnancy doesn't mean you'll have diabetes forever, but it's worth noting that it does bump up your chances of developing type 2 diabetes down the line. 

Uncontrolled gestational diabetes also increases your risk for a few more complications, such as the following:

High blood pressure (preeclampsia)

Gestational diabetes increases your risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy, a condition known as preeclampsia. This condition can cause problems such as premature birth and, in severe cases, can be life-threatening for both you and your baby. 

Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)

Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes are at risk of developing low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) shortly after birth. Your baby’s insulin production is high because of the excess glucose in your blood, so your pediatrician should monitor your baby's blood sugar levels after birth.

Large birth weight (macrosomia)

Excess blood sugar can cause your baby to grow too large (macrosomia), making vaginal delivery difficult and potentially leading to injuries during birth. 

Cesarean section (C-section)

If your baby is very large, you may require a C-section, a surgical procedure used to deliver a baby through incisions in your abdomen and uterus. C-sections carry potential risks, such as infection and longer recovery time.

Tips for managing gestational diabetes

Knowledge is power. The more you know about gestational diabetes, the better equipped you are to protect your baby and yourself, and we can help. Dr. Heard monitors your health closely and handles the medical side of it. Meanwhile, here are some things you can do to lower your risk of complications.

1. Watch your diet

Your diet matters when managing gestational diabetes. Eat balanced meals with lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Limit foods high in refined sugars and unhealthy fats. 

2. Exercise

Physical activity helps your body use insulin better. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week, like brisk walking or prenatal yoga. Always check with Dr. Heard before starting a new exercise regimen.

3. Monitor your blood sugar levels

We check your blood sugar levels throughout your pregnancy, and so should you. Our team can show you how and when to self-check your blood glucose, the ideal levels, and how to spot signs of trouble.

4. Take your medication (if needed)

If diet and exercise alone aren’t enough, Dr. Heard might prescribe insulin therapy or other medications. If so, take them as directed and on time.

5. Keep all your regular prenatal appointments

Regular check-ups allow Dr. Heard to monitor your progress and make necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.

6. Get emotional support

Managing gestational diabetes can be stressful. Consider reaching out to support groups, talking to a therapist, or confiding in loved ones — asking for help is okay.

Gestational diabetes can be challenging — don’t do it alone. Request an appointment online, or call Glendale Obstetrics and Gynecology, PC, to learn more about gestational diabetes.