Gestational Diabetes – what you need to know!

So, you are over half way through your pregnancy, almost to the 3rd trimester really, when you doctor schedules your glucose tolerance test.  You’ve been warned…”the drink taste terrible” “you won’t get to eat anything”.  The comments go on!  Well we are here to walk you through the test and what happens if you get a positive results (it will be ok!).

Back up: what is it?

Gestational diabetes is diabetes during pregnancy. It causes high blood sugar levels for you and the baby.  Good news: small changes via your diet can help control blood sugar levels, and blood sugar levels usually return to normal after delivery.  One important note, moms who test positive for gestational diabetes do have an increased risk of type two diabetes later in life.

Look, your hormones are ALL over the place during pregnancy.  This is not your fault!  We don’t know all the risk factors for gestational diabetes, but we do know a few:

-Being overweight or obese

-Lack of exercise

-PCOS

-Previous diagnosis of gestational diabetes

-Family history of diabetes

-Having a baby weight more than 9 pounds

-And women of African American, American Indian, Asian American, Pacific Islander and Hispanic decent have a high risk

Why you should care:

High blood sugar levels for you and your baby can cause some problems.

For mom:

Increase chance of caesarean section

High blood pressure

Diabetes diagnosis later in life

For baby:

Preterm birth

Very large baby

Babies with respiratory distress

Hypoglycemia

Stillbirth

Why you shouldn’t freak out:

Through EASY dietary medication and some extra steps, you can lower your blood sugar levels.  And great news, you can still have carbs.  Fear not!

How you can prevent it:

Sign up for Unique Footprints Pregnancy Program to have instant access to a pregnancy meal plan, prenatal workout guide, with ways to prepare for your birth and what comes after, all from the comfort of your home.

Get moving! 30 minutes of walking a day will do wonders for you and your baby.  Being active before and during pregnancy just makes everything easier.

Start the pregnancy health. This one is for the planners out there.  If you can be in great shape to start (not overweight), you will have a healthier pregnancy

Speaking of weight, be mindful of the weight gain while pregnant. Obviously gaining weight is normal (it’s good for you and baby!) but too much too rapidly can up your risk.

Fruits, veggies and fiber! Consuming a healthy diet with at least 25 grams of fiber per day can help lower your risk.  (More information on this later!)

Ok, so how do I know if I have it?

You have the pleasure of drinking a high sugary drink at your OB’s office and waiting an hour to do some lab work.  Joy!  We recommend that you call ahead and ask that the drink be refrigerated.  You will tolerate it so much better.  The old “chill it and kill it” method!  If your blood glucose levels are 190 mg/dL or higher, you could have gestational diabetes.  (Below 140 mg/dL is ideal).  If you test high during this screening, your doctor will validate it with another (get excited).

The follow up test has you drink a similar solution that contains even more sugar and you will have your blood sugar tested every hour for three hours.  If 2 or more are high, you will be diagnosed.  But remember, do not panic! If you need additional gestational diabetes support, we can help.

How do I treat it?

Get and Stay Active:

You will not only want to be active for 30 minutes a day, but you will want to take a small stroll (less than 10 minutes) after your meals.  It is amazing the effects that walking can have on your blood sugar!

Medication:

10-20% of moms will be prescribed medication.  Follow your doctor’s recommendation.

Diet:

You want your diet to focus on fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean proteins.  You will want to limit simple carbohydrates like sugary drinks and sweets.  We recommend you meet with a dietitian for a personalized meal plan.  In the meantime, here is what you can do!

Pro Tip:

The goal is to always pair a carbohydrate with a protein at every meal and snack all while watching your portion sizes.  All foods can fit!  It’s just about pairing and portion control!  You want to aim for 2-3 carb servings per meal with 1-2 at snacks.  Try to have 3 ounces or protein at your meals and 1 ounce with your snacks. Questions? Sign up for the Unique Footprints Pregnancy Program for tips and support from Registered Dietitians and Registered Nurses.

Unique Footprints Authors:

Caroline Susie, RD/LD

Caroline is in private practice and is the Unique Footprints Registered Dietitian, mother of a 6 month old and two Jack Russel Terriers. She helps women sort through nutrition trends to find the best evidence-based nutrition approach for their lifestyle. She currently specializes in prenatal and postnatal nutrition and believes that taking a personalized approach is best. She is a contributor for Fox News and many other publications. Personally, Caroline is a fitness enthusiast who enjoys running, yoga, tennis and is a lover of food. You can learn more about Carline here. 

Jenny Morrow, RN, IBCLC, LCCE, RYT

Jenny is a born and raised Texan who loves the feel of a book in her hands, an unshakable optimistic and refuels by time in nature. She’s a mom, neonatal nurse and founder of Unique Footprints (a fully realized, 100% digital pregnant and new mom resource). She created her company in the delivery room – literally! As a nurse assisting with deliveries and postpartum care, she directly witnessed families who did not feel prepared and were shocked through the transition into parenthood, and she knew there was a better way. Jenny has taught over 10,000 expecting families how to prepare for this time in their lives. You can learn more about Jenny here.

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