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Keeping Healthy During Pregnancy with Gestational Diabetes 

Every pregnancy can have its own set of challenges. Some moms-to-be face a condition called gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes impacts 2%-10% of pregnancies in the United States every year. But what exactly is gestational diabetes, and how can it be managed? How do a healthy diet and exercise impact gestational diabetes? Where does monitoring fit in?  

Let’s explore further. 

What is Gestational Diabetes? 

Gestational diabetes occurs when a woman who is pregnant has high blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels.  Researchers don’t yet fully understand why some women get gestational diabetes and why others do not.  One thing they have noticed is that women who are carrying extra pounds before becoming pregnant have a greater chance of developing gestational diabetes. 

When there is too much sugar in the blood it can cause problems for both the mother and the baby. Those problems include high blood pressure, high baby birth weight, low blood sugar for baby after birth and other serious issues.    

The good news is that gestational diabetes can be managed, and these complications can be prevented. 

How to Manage Gestational Diabetes  

Pregnant women with gestational diabetes need to pay extra attention to their diet. Moms-to-be with gestational diabetes can lean on their healthcare team, including their doctor, dietitian, and diabetes educator, to create a nutrition plan that helps them to achieve their daily blood glucose goals.  

Some general guidelines to follow are: 

  • Eat a variety of healthy foods including lean proteins, vegetables, heart-healthy fats, low fat dairy, whole grains, and whole fruits. 
  • Include three smaller meals and two or three snacks daily. 
  • Count carbohydrates throughout the day to stay within recommended guidelines. 
  • Be mindful of the timing of certain foods that are higher in carbohydrates. 
  • Avoid sugary foods and drinks like cakes, cookies, juices, and sweetened beverages. 

The Role of Exercise 

Being active is important during pregnancy especially for those managing gestational diabetes, since exercise can help to naturally lower blood sugars. Most health experts suggest moderate exercise, like walking for about 30 minutes per day a few days each week.  

Keep in mind that the amount of exercise recommended in pregnancy depends on how active a woman was before becoming pregnant. If a woman wasn’t very active before pregnancy, she should not start heavy exercise suddenly. Certain exercises that could cause falls or injuries – like riding a bike or skiing – should be avoided. 

How Can Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) Help? 

CGM is a helpful tool for managing gestational diabetes. Unlike regular blood sugar tests that require a finger stick, CGM provides glucose readings every one to five minutes! This tool, approved by the FDA, helps both the mother-to-be and her healthcare provider keep a close eye on blood sugar levels throughout the day with less hassle. It’s a valuable addition to ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery. 

It’s About Staying Healthy… For Two! 

For every pregnancy, it is crucial that mothers-to-be communicate with their healthcare provider. And when it comes to managing gestational diabetes, maintaining a healthy diet and exercise can lead to the best outcomes for both mother and baby. 

Author: Amanda Tovar, RDN, LD, CDCES, CLC | CCS Health       

This site is for educational purposes only. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider before making any decisions about your health.