Gestational diabetes and how proper nutrition can help
A balanced, nutritious diet is important in any pregnancy, but healthy food choices are even more critical if you are at risk for, or have been diagnosed with, gestational diabetes.
What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes occurs when a woman’s blood sugar or glucose levels become too high while she is pregnant. During pregnancy, hormones in your body increase significantly and can interfere with your body’s production of insulin, which controls the levels of sugar in your blood.
Approximately 3% to 8% of women develop gestational diabetes.1 It usually appears in the second half of pregnancy and is detected by a blood test between weeks 24 and 28.
While gestational diabetes usually goes away after delivery, having it during pregnancy increases the risk for developing diabetes later. It is important that you are monitored by your physician to ensure ongoing health for you and your baby, and to avoid complications.
Who is at risk for gestational diabetes?
The risk of developing gestational diabetes increases if you:
Is gestational diabetes dangerous to your baby?
Most women who have gestational diabetes give birth to healthy babies, especially if they control their blood sugar, eat a healthy diet, exercise, and maintain a healthy weight. However, diabetes during pregnancy does place your baby at risk for:
Gestational diabetes diets: using nutrition to counter diabetes
Fortunately, a good diet with controlled carbohydrates and moderate fat and protein can help control symptoms of diabetes and regulate blood sugar. During gestational diabetes, blood glucose is controlled with a combination of tools, including a meal plan, a physical-activity plan, and insulin (if needed). Because food helps control gestational diabetes, ask your doctor for a consult with a registered dietitian to develop an eating plan. A meal plan can help you maintain optimal blood sugar levels while you are still getting the vital nutrients your body needs.
Here are a few additional tips to help manage gestational diabetes:
1NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases