Treatment of Gestational Diabetes
Expectant mothers with gestational diabetes should self-monitor their blood sugar levels daily, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, receive ultrasound screenings, and take medications such as insulin to effectively control their blood sugar levels during pregnancy.
Women with gestational diabetes should make healthy diet choices by eating smaller meals and healthy snacks at regular intervals to keep their blood sugar stable. Researchers recommend that they eat at least three small sized meals and two to four snacks daily. Expectant mothers should eat 25 to 28 grams of high fiber and at least 4 servings of non-starchy vegetables daily. Foods with high fiber include whole grains like bread made out of barley kernel and wheat bran.
Expectant mothers should eat fewer carbohydrates for breakfast than for lunch and dinner because gestational diabetes causes high blood glucose in the morning. They should fill half of their plates with vegetables such as lettuce, okra, cabbage, broccoli, celery, cucumber and salad greens, and use low-calorie dressing.
To protect their hearts, the ADA recommends eating monounsaturated fat which is healthier than trans-fat. Avocado, sesame seeds and most nuts are examples of monounsaturated fats. Small portions of these healthy fats should be consumed to control total calorie intake. Consuming 6 to 8 ounces of plant-based protein such as beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, artichokes, and split peas with each meal helps control blood sugar and provides a feeling of fullness. A balanced meal plan also contains 2 to 5 ounces of meat such as the leanest portions of lamb, chicken, and turkey. Since these do not contain carbohydrate, they would not raise the expectant mothers’ blood sugar levels.
Expectant mothers should drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to keep them hydrated and help flush their system instead of fruit juice and regular soft drinks which could raise their blood glucose significantly and quite quickly because carbs are easily absorbed.
Physical activity increases insulin sensitivity and helps the body use glucose more efficiently to lower blood sugar and A1C levels. Thirty minutes of daily exercise 5 days per week is recommended. Activities such as brisk walking for at least 2 miles in 30 minutes, general gardening, or water aerobics for 30 minutes are examples of recommended physical activity. Women who were not exercising regularly before pregnancy should start exercising gradually and follow their doctor’s instructions on how much exercise is right for them.