Diabetes may lead to birth defects during the first few weeks of pregnancy, which is why women must be monitored to control blood sugar levels. It is crucial to have one's diabetes under control before conception. Screening for diabetes is often done when the mother to be has a risk of developing gestational diabetes. Keeping blood sugar levels under control will help to avoid having complications during pregnancy and delivery, and also to keep the child healthy.
Dietary and lifestyle modifications are the most common recommendations for treating and controlling gestational diabetes.
Some helpful lifestyle tips for pregnant mothers include:
- Healthy diet – A dietician might be of help to plan out a healthy diet to keep blood sugar levels under control. The diet is usually planned in such a way that it meets the calorie requirements of the growing baby, but keeps the sugar levels under control. Thus, the diet is the right quality and quantity to meet the requirements of the body. For those who are overweight, the calories are usually restricted to 1,800 per day.
- Exercise – People with gestational diabetes are asked to include regular exercise, along with their diet, in their daily routines. This is to ensure proper utilization of insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. Healthcare providers will suggest the type of exercise one can do.
- Monitoring blood sugar level – Blood sugar levels should be tested regularly to ensure that diet and exercise are helpful in keeping it under control. The healthcare provider might ask to check the sugar levels several times per day. As the sugar level rises in blood, high levels of insulin may be produced in the body of the child, which may lead to very low sugar levels in the baby after birth.
- Medications – If the lifestyle modifications and diet are not enough to regulate blood sugar levels, insulin injections may be recommended to get the desired result. Only about 10% of those affected by gestational diabetes are asked to take insulin injections. Oral blood sugar medications may be suggested, in some cases.
Generally, the growth of the baby is monitored continuously throughout the pregnancy depending on how well the person is responding to the diet, lifestyle modifications, or drugs.