by Julie Snyder
About 1.85 million women between 18 and 44 years old have diabetes. Approximately 500,000 of them don't know they have the disease. If you belong to an ethnic or racial minority you're two to three times more likely to have it.
Although expectant mothers with diabetes can and do have healthy pregnancies and deliveries, they're at greater risk for complications such as preeclampsia, Cesarean section, and infections.
If you have diabetes or found out you have gestational diabetes, your healthcare provider will discuss trying diet and exercise. If that doesn't help, you may be among the 10 to 15 percent of women needing insulin injections. Find out how you can create a manageable plan that works for you.
Your Diabetes Management Plan
Treatment for gestational diabetes is started as soon as you're diagnosed. Your goal is to keep your blood sugars low. Treatment will usually include changing your lifestyle habits and what and how you eat.
Get Moving! Exercise Helps
Working your muscles more and making them work harder improves their ability to use insulin and absorb glucose. You don't need to get hot and sweaty to benefit from exercise. Walking briskly for a half hour a day or short walks after each meal also help control the disease.
Tune-Up Your Diet
You'll most likely work with a dietician to plan your new menu. You'll eat smaller meals, more of them and learn how to make wiser food choices.
Making healthy food choices, like eating a variety of foods including fresh fruits and vegetables and limiting your fat intake can go a long way in controlling your diabetes.
These four rules will help you keep your glucose stable now and after your baby arrives:
1. Choose whole grains and whole grain products. Whole grains contain fiber that slows the release of glucose into your blood stream. Combine your carbohydrates like grains and fruits with a lean protein for better glucose control.
2. Skip sugary drinks. Sugary beverages have a high glycemic load that can make controlling blood sugar levels difficult.
There might be another reason to avoid sodas and sweet tea. Mounting evidence points to sugar's contribution to diabetes risk factors. Opt for water and a bit of coffee and tea, if you don't load them with sugar.
3. Include good fats in your daily menu. Salmon and avocados are just a few of the yummy and healthy foods that you can eat and add to your new menu.
4. Limit red meat and processed meat. Replace some of the red meat in your diet with poultry, fish, legumes and nuts.
Monitoring Your Glucose Levels
Not every mother will need to use insulin. Many moms control the blood sugars with diet and exercise alone.
Your practitioner will explain how to monitor your blood sugars. It's normal to be told to check your blood glucose levels several times a day with a glucometer. You might also be asked to test your urine for ketones.
If your blood sugar levels don't stabilize after a couple weeks on your diet and exercise regime, you may need one or more insulin injections each day.
Are you a mom with GD? How have you controlled blood sugar levels? How did you find out?
- Diabetes and Women's Health Across the Life Stages. Acessed August 5, 2012.
- November 2011. Gestational Diabetes Treatment Overview
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