When you’re diagnosed with gestational diabetes, it’s common to have concerns. While gestational diabetes does increase your risk for some pregnancy complications, it’s often a very manageable condition. Many moms go on to have a healthy pregnancy and baby.
The International Diabetes Federation estimates as many as one in six births are affected by gestational diabetes. Because it’s so common, many resources exist to help pregnant moms better manage the effects. From diet changes to routine blood sugar checks, here are six ways your OB GYN may help you stay on top of your health when you have gestational diabetes.
Make changes to your diet
It’s likely your OB GYN will connect you with resources on the best food choices for gestational diabetes. Many hospitals also offer nutrition counseling with a registered dietitian or certified diabetes educator if you need help.
Your specific diet recommendations may vary based on your body. In general, the American Diabetes Association says you should fill your plate with 1/2 non-starchy vegetables, 1/4 lean proteins, and 1/4 carbohydrate foods. Carbohydrate foods, such as grains, fruits, starchy vegetables, and milk or yogurt, have the most effect on blood sugar.
Monitor your blood sugar
You’ll be able to better manage gestational diabetes if you consistently monitor your blood sugar levels. Be sure to follow your OB GYN’s guidance on how often to check your numbers. Often, you’ll be asked to take your blood sugar a few times a day.
Tracking your blood sugar gives your doctor valuable information to know if he or she needs to make any adjustments to your care. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says it can help you make decisions about when and how much you should eat, what foods are best for you, and if you need to take insulin.
In addition to its many other benefits, regular exercise can help you manage gestational diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you should aim to do moderate-intensity activities five days a week. Some activities that are generally safe for pregnant women include walking, swimming, or group aerobics classes. Talk to your doctor about the types and amount of exercise that are right for you.
Follow instructions for medications and insulin
Some women with gestational diabetes don’t need medication or insulin to manage their condition. However, especially as your pregnancy progresses, this may become part of your gestational diabetes plan. Typically, pregnant moms who need insulin will learn how to give themselves insulin shots. The March of Dimes says taking medications or insulin exactly as your OB GYN tells you to is important to keep your gestational diabetes under control.
Stay up to date on your OB GYN visits
Especially if you have a pregnancy condition like gestational diabetes, routine prenatal care is essential. These routine visits help your doctor catch any concerns sooner. Your OB GYN may perform extra screenings or tests to check on your health.
Some moms with gestational diabetes may also have visits with an OB GYN who is board-certified in maternal-fetal medicine. These physicians offer extra training and expertise in conditions that affect moms and babies during pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes.
Get checked after you deliver
For many with gestational diabetes, the condition resolves on its own after delivery. However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says between 15 and 70% of those with gestational diabetes will develop diabetes later on in life. Let your health providers know about your history of gestational diabetes so that you can get the checkups and screenings you need.
If you’re planning another pregnancy in the future, you’re at a higher risk for gestational diabetes again. Before you start trying for another baby, talk with your OB GYN about your risk. Together, you can create a plan to help monitor and treat your condition so you can have a healthy pregnancy.