Often women without any previous history of diabetes experience high blood sugar levels during pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester. This phase is clinically termed as Gestational Diabetes or Gestational Diabetes Mellitus.
Often triggered by fluctuating insulin responses, a possible explanation for the same remains how the lactogen in the human placenta intermingles and hinders the activity of the usual insulin receptors. While the condition disappears after the birth of the baby, the consequences include an abnormally large head, hypoglycemia, jaundice etc. However, the more severe consequences include stillbirth or seizures in the newborn.
However, a few simple steps, a couple of do’s and don’ts can easily bring the situation under control.
The Big Do’s of Gestational Diabetes
Check Blood Sugar at Regular Intervals
Closely monitor your blood sugar levels, multiple times every day. Most often, either gestational diabetes is not diagnosed or we do not monitor it closely enough and end up missing valuable information. You can raise some degree of information by visiting health care specialists in the nearby hospital or asking your doctor to convey the information himself. He can also put you through a couple of other important services that you definitely would not want to miss. You can also opt for a home kit and use it to check your blood sugar levels at regular intervals.
Follow a Gestational Diabetes Friendly Diet
A balanced diet bears special significance during pregnancy. Both the nutrient intake as well as the calorie count is essential. A diet rich in micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other rare but important nutrients deserve your attention. Iron, an important component of blood, is responsible for the hemoglobin levels in the blood, an important parameter for determining health.
A certified dietitian will be able to personalise a diet chart for you taking your needs and your metabolism into consideration after evaluation.
Never Skip Carbohydrates
It is essential to keep your blood sugar levels in check when you are a diabetic. Carbohydrates are all sugars, but the digestion and absorption process for refined carbohydrates and healthy carbohydrates are different.
Refined foods, like white bread, cheese, and butter dissociate rapidly in the bloodstream and blood sugar levels spike immediately because of their high glycemic index (GI). The organs cannot handle the sudden rush of carbohydrates, and they stand at the risk of permanent damage. On the other hand, carbohydrates high in dietary fibre are dissociated slowly and are aptly named as foods with low glycemic index (GI).
Remain Physically Active
Some amount of exercise is always recommended during pregnancy for healthy labour and to maintain good health in both the mother and the fetus. It regulates the proper secretion of oxytocin and vasopressin, the pituitary hormones, which are responsible for childbirth. However, refrain from strenuous physical activities as they can take a toll on your health.
Other than running or speed walking, prenatal yoga, swimming, and prenatal aerobics are excellent options. However, it must be practiced under the expert supervision of fitness experts. Yoga and aerobics have certain special exercises, which are beneficial for the foetus and the baby.
Learn About Your Breastfeeding Habits
Babies born from gestational diabetes must be subjected to exclusive breastfeeding; that is, breast milk remains the sole source of food and nourishment for the body. Regular breast milk can help the baby avoid long-term health issues, including diabetes and obesity. It also strengthens their immune system .
There are a number of factors and intricate details that you must learn about if you are suffering from gestational diabetes. Learn about them, do a thorough, in depth research, and by the time the baby arrives, you will be prepared to deal with it. Lactation specialists, available at your nearest hospital or any other health institution can guide you better after going through your case details.
Regular Follow Up Visits With Your Doctor
Follow-up visits to the doctor diagnose important underlying symptoms and can undo great damage. Often there is more to what the eye meets and only the expert eye can diagnose the condition correctly and prevent harm.
Often, during the course of pregnancy, the dosage of the medications as well as the medications changes too. Regular follow-up visits help in predicting these transitional phases of pregnancies beforehand and the medications prepare the body for the same.
Did you know that snoring is a sign of gestational diabetes, too? Certain pregnancy hormones can lead to nasal congestion leading to increased snoring. Snoring, in general, is a sign of superficial sleep.
Sleeping well releases stress and strain from the body. Rejuvenating the body from within, it ensures that you and your baby’s health are not compromised in any way whatsoever. The added weight along with the sudden upsurge in the hormonal levels is bound to exhaust you, but sleeping well helps you to cope up with the fatigue effectively.
The Big Don’ts of Gestational Diabetes
Do Not Skip Your Gestational Diabetes Medications
With pregnancy, often comes the tendency to skip medications. The hormones are responsible for mood swings and frequent changes in taste buds. However, that is no excuse to compromise on the health factor. Anti-diabetic drugs, health supplements and other medications are highly important and must not be skipped. Often, insulin injections are also prescribed. This is just to keep blood sugar levels in check. The latest discovery, long acting insulins is a better alternative, as they are safer.
Stay Away from Sugary Goodness
As much as the cakes, pies and cookies tempt us, they are not good for your health. They contain large amounts of refined white flour and processed carbohydrates, which will increase your blood sugar levels immediately and damage organs like the heart, blood vessels, liver and kidneys.
Every time you are tempted or feel like you are craving sugar, snack on raisins, prunes, dates and other sweet dry fruits, which are more than just sugar. The antioxidant content and the minute amounts of minerals contribute to your dietary needs too. Almonds, cashews, and walnuts are rich in vitamins and have essential fatty acids that take the nutritional level several notches higher and the calories count much lower.
Do Not Fret Too Much Over Glucose Levels in the Diet
While it is okay to want to achieve those desirable figures as stated in the charts and directed by the nutritionist, it is sometimes difficult to achieve these targets. It is mainly because of your metabolism or other factors. Given the circumstances, try not to fret about it and let things take their natural course. Stress and tension will only aggravate your cardiovascular health and in turn, affect the baby. Thus, it is advisable to visit the doctor and take suitable measures as directed by them, instead of trying things on your own.
Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol and Soft Carbonated Drinks
Alcohol dehydrates the body, whereas soft carbonated drinks affect the pH levels of the digestive system. Not to forget, they are loaded with preservatives and unnecessary sugar that can be clogged in the bloodstream without being utilized, remaining stagnant for long and then affecting the kidneys in the next cycle of blood purification. Caffeine also reportedly hampers the development of the Central Nervous System (CNS) in the fetus.
A varying chunk, around three to ten percent of the world’s pregnancies is affected by this complication, going by the statistical surveys conducted. When left untreated, the baby can develop obesity in his childhood, leading to type 2 diabetes in later life. On the other hand, the mother stands at the risk of C-section and pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure due to pregnancy).
With the sedentary lifestyle, pollution and changes in a gene pool, these complications in pregnancy have become very common. Some amount of knowledge gained from experts and valuable insights from thorough check-ups along with a healthy diet and an active lifestyle are the basics for combating further complications during childbirth.
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