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Gestational diabetes self-care

Gestational diabetes self-care ; How to lower blood sugar during pregnancy


Gestational diabetes is a condition in which there are high blood sugar levels developed during pregnancy and usually disappears after giving birth. Here we are presenting the best gestational diabetes self-care tips that would help reduce the blood sugar levels.

It is a type of diabetes that is only observed in pregnant women who didn’t have diabetes before. 

It is not necessary that an already diabetic woman would have gestational diabetes. Like any other type of diabetes, gestational diabetes also affects the way how your cells uptake glucose. 

High blood sugar levels caused by gestational diabetes can be harmful for mother and baby as well. But this harmful effect can be controlled and managed by preventing gestational diabetes.

Symptoms of gestational diabetes : 

Mostly, gestational diabetes doesn’t show any symptoms and it is usually diagnosed in blood screening tests. But in some severe cases, it may show some symptoms which are : 

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Dry mouth
  • Tiredness and lethargy
  • Blurr vision

Risk factors of Gestational Diabetes : 

Here are some risk factors for gestational diabetes in presence of which the condition can become worse : 

  • Obesity (overweight)
  • Physically inactive
  • Having prediabetes
  • Had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
  • Have polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Having a family member with diabetes
  • Had previously delivered a baby weighing more than 9-10 pounds (4.1-4.5 kilograms)

Gestational diabetes self-care tips

Healthy Diet : 

The first and foremost gestational diabetes self-care routine is eating a healthy and balanced diet. Your diet should include low-carb foods, fiber-rich and protein-rich foods. Your focus should be more on fruits, non starchy vegetables and whole grains. But you have to take care of the size/quantity of your meal. Here we present a very easy method to prepare a healthy plate of your one time meal.

The Plate Method : 

It’s quite common and easy to eat more food than your body needs. This plate method is a simple, visual way to make sure you get ample non-starchy vegetables and protein while limiting the quantity of higher-carb foods (that could have a harmful effect on your blood glucose level)

You have to take a 9-inch dinner plate :

  • Fill half of it with non starchy and green leafy vegetables, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and carrots etc.
  • Fill one quarter of it with a lean protein, such as chicken, beans, or eggs.
  • Fill one quarter of it with carb foods. Foods that are rich in carbs include grains, starch-rich vegetables (such as potatoes and peas).

Physical Exercise : 

Physical exercise, done on a regular basis, is another way to keep blood sugar levels under control. Every woman should keep exercising before, during and after pregnancy. This is the most effective gestational diabetes self-care tip.

Consult your gynecologist regarding the time duration of your workout or you can simply follow the suggestion of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical exercise each week.

So you can have 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical exercise five days a week or you can plan it accordingly. 

Here are the exercises which you can do in any period of your pregnancy : 

  • walking
  • swimming
  • yoga

Here is the list of exercises with respect to each trimester of your pregnancy : 

1st trimester exercises : 

  • Pelvic curl
  • Pelvic brace
  • Kneeling push ups
  • Squats
  • Bicep curls

2nd Trimester Exercises : 

  • Incline pushups
  • Hip flexor and quadriceps stretch
  • Side-lying leg lifts
  • Mermaid stretch

3rd Trimester Exercises : 

  • Diastasis recti correction
  • Body weight squats
  • Standing shoulder press with light weights
  • Bicep curls with light weights
  • Push ups against a wall

Regularly Monitor Blood Sugar : 

In pregnancy, there is an abrupt change in the hormones which causes the body’s need for energy to change, consequently blood sugar levels also change very quickly. So blood sugar levels of a pregnant woman should be regularly monitored. Here are the normal values recommended by Americans Diabetes Association

  • Before a meal: <95 mg/dl
  • One hour after a meal: <140 mg/dl
  • Two hours after a meal: <120 mg/dl

 Start pregnancy at a healthy weight :  

If you are deciding to get pregnant, then you should have a healthy weight. Losing extra weight before the pregnancy may help you to have a healthy pregnancy. This is not actually a gestational diabetes self-care tip but an inter pregnancy self-care tip.

Make changes to your eating habits even before starting pregnancy. This planning beforehand will be very beneficial for you and your baby.

Administration of Insulin : 

If after doing all these gestational diabetes self-care routines , still your blood sugar levels are not being controlled, then you should go for insulin injection. 

Consult with your gynecologist and start having a dose of insulin to keep your blood sugar levels within normal ranges.

Why is gestational diabetes worse in the second pregnancy ?

According to a research, an inter-pregnancy increase in BMI (body mass index) may increase a woman’s risk of Gestational Diabetes while reductions in BMI results in reduced risk, particularly in those women who were overweight/obese .

Usually after the first pregnancy the woman has gained a lot of weight and her BMI has increased. This obesity has a higher risk factor for gestational diabetes. According to a study, it is proved that obesity produces insulin resistance so increased weight means higher insulin resistance. Due to this higher insulin resistance, gestational diabetes becomes worse in the second pregnancy.

According to another study, risks of Gestational Diabetes in the second pregnancy among women with and without Gestational Diabetes in 1st pregnancy were 41.3% and 4.2%, respectively, which means that there is a higher incidence of gestational diabetes in women who previously had it.

Gestational Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes : 

Gestational diabetes usually fades away after pregnancy. But once you’ve suffered from gestational diabetes, your chances are increased that you will have it in future pregnancies. Plus there could be chances that you can also have type 1 or type 2 diabetes developed after pregnancy. So you need to take care of your blood sugar levels after having a pregnancy with gestational diabetes

Many women who have gestational diabetes get to develop type 2 diabetes years later after that pregnancy. There seems to be a connection between gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes because both involve insulin resistance. However, proper lifestyle changes can help prevent type 2 diabetes after gestational diabetes.


How harmful is gestational diabetes to the baby?

Gestational diabetes increases the weight of babies and consequently may cause difficulty in birth . Plus it makes them vulnerable to developing obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life.

What are the warning signs of gestational diabetes?

Increased thirst, frequent urination and fatigue are the warning signs of gestational diabetes. Proper gestational diabetes self-care tips should be followed to alleviate this condition.

Bibliography Sources : 

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