Every year, up to 10% of pregnancies in the United States are affected by gestational diabetes. The same hormones that are necessary for your body to nurture a child also make it harder for your body to regulate its blood sugar (the hormones increase your insulin resistance).
While gestational diabetes can lead to complications such as early birth, the condition is manageable, and most women with gestational diabetes have a healthy pregnancy.
To achieve that healthy pregnancy, though, you must be attentive to your body’s needs. At Arlington Family Practice in Arlington, Massachusetts, our team is experienced at guiding mothers-to-be through gestational diabetes.
Here are five of the best methods we’ve found for managing the condition. (Hint: It’s all about the blood sugar.)
Diet is by far the biggest factor in controlling your gestational diabetes. Your goal is to maintain balanced blood sugar levels (not too low or too high), and your food intake affects your blood sugar more than anything else.
Don’t just fly by the seat of your pants — work with your doctor to create a diet customized to your individual situation.
You need just the right balance of carbohydrates to give you energy and sugar, so you have to count your carbs and mix in the right amount of proteins, starches, vegetables, etc. Your body lets you know if you’re getting off balance, so pay attention to what your body is telling you.
Engaging in moderate physical activity every day can also help you control your blood sugar levels. Walking and swimming are great examples of appropriate activities.
You don’t want to overdo your exertion because that can lead to more problems, but 30 minutes or so a day goes a long way toward helping your body regulate itself.
You can’t control your blood sugar levels well if you don’t know what they are. This requires lots of testing throughout the day. Ideally, check your blood sugar first thing in the morning (a fasting reading), 1-2 hours after each meal, and then right before you go to bed.
Knowing these numbers helps you adjust your food intake throughout the day. You should keep a journal of your readings, along with information about your diet, exercise, and sleep. This can show you how various foods and activities affect your levels.
Increased levels of stress can also affect your hormone levels, so it’s important to keep your stress low, as difficult as that may be while you have gestational diabetes.
Ideas to relieve stress include asking your family and friends for support, keeping a journal, trying meditation and yoga, taking a warm bath, and going for a daily walk outside.
Even if you follow all these steps, you still may need to take insulin or other medications that help regulate your blood sugar. You haven’t done anything wrong if this is the case — your body may just need a little more help.
Follow your doctor’s instructions on when and how to use your medications, and you’ll come through your pregnancy just fine.
If you need help navigating the gestational diabetes journey, our expert team at Arlington Family Practice is ready to serve you. Just call our office to schedule a consultation, or use our convenient online scheduler to request an appointment. We can’t wait to see your healthy baby!