• Shruti GOCHHWAL

How to Manage Gestational Diabetes?

Diabetes that is identified for the first time during pregnancy is termed as “Gestational diabetes (GD)”. The high sugar levels, if not properly managed, can cause complications to the diabetic mother and the baby. Here we are discussing ways to manage gestational diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes in India

About 18% of women may experience gestational diabetes while pregnant but only 7% of those pregnancies will have complications.

It is estimated that about 4 million women are affected by gestational diabetes in India, at any given time point.

Symptoms of Gestational Diabetes

There are no noticeable symptoms of gestational diabetes. Excessive thirst, dry mouth, tiredness, and more-frequent urination are the common features noticed.

Risk factors of Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes-Risk factors

Overweight woman, Credits: pixabay


The cause of gestational diabetes is not well established. The following are the risk factors of the disease as follows:

  1. Overweight and obesity

  2. Lack of physical activity

  3. Hormonal imbalances like PCOD

  4. Prediabetes

  5. Family history of diabetes

  6. Previously delivering a baby with a weight more than 4.1 kilograms

  7. Race — Women who are Black, Hispanic, American Indian, and Asian American have a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes.

What Are The Complications Of Gestational Diabetes?

Uncontrolled blood sugar can cause problems like

  1. Need for induced labour or C-section

  2. Premature birth

  3. Preeclampsia

  4. Stillbirth

  5. The Baby’s weight may be excess and may develop breathing problems

How to Diagnose Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes-Diagnosis

Woman checking blood sugar levels, Credits: pixabay


Gestational diabetes is identified during the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy through an oral glucose tolerance test or glucose challenge test.

The American Diabetes Association has set the following “above-normal” levels

  1. Fasting:  At or above 92 mg/dL

  2. 1 Hour: At or above 180 mg/dL

  3. 2 Hour: At or above 153 mg/dL

How to Manage Gestational Diabetes?

Managing your sugar levels during pregnancy is crucial to reduce the risk of complications to the mother and the baby.

You can try the following if you have GD or at risk of developing GD.

  1. Have a Healthy Weight Before Pregnancy

If you plan to become pregnant, make sure you have an optimum weight. Losing the extra weight beforehand can help you have a healthy pregnancy. Losing weight during pregnancy is not recommended; hence it is better to plan for weight loss before pregnancy.

  1. Choose Healthy Foods

Gestational diabetes-Diet

Carrots, Credits: pixabay


Eat foods rich in fiber and consume vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein. Watch portion sizes and have a well “balanced diet”. Opt for foods that are high in nutrition and fiber, and low in fat and calories. Limit the intake of sweets and refined carbohydrates. When you follow a healthy eating plan, it is important to remember how much to eat, when to eat, and which foods to eat.

If necessary, get the help of a registered dietician or a diabetes educator. They may help you create a plan according to your weight, your blood sugar levels, food preferences, and lifestyle habits.

  1. Stay Physically Active

Stay Active

A woman walking, Credits: pixabay


Stay physically active before and during pregnancy. Involve yourself in moderate activity for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. Brisk walking is a good way to stay active. Involve in regular housework activities and gardening.

Regular exercises not only help manage your sugar levels but help prevent discomfort during pregnancy like back pain, muscle cramps, swelling, constipation, and trouble sleeping.

When planning to stay physically active, you must remember the following

  1. Not to involve in sports where you could fall or hurt your abdomen like soccer and basketball

  2. Avoid brisk exercises during extreme weathers

  3. Do not use steam rooms, hot tubs, and saunas

  4. Avoid exercises that allow you to lie flat on your back after 12 weeks of your pregnancy.

  5. Ideal and Consistent Weight Gain

Weight gain during pregnancy is normal. But a sudden increase in weight can be a risk factor for gestational diabetes. Do not cross the recommended levels of weight.

  1. Monitor Sugar Levels

If you have GD, your doctor advises to check your blood sugar levels frequently, one reading in the morning and one reading after 1 hour of eating, and the second reading after 2 hours of eating. The levels must stay in the recommended range.

  1. Medications

Medications

A doctor holding an injection, Credits: pixabay


If your doctor feels that exercise and a healthy diet are not enough to manage your diabetes, he may prescribe insulin injections. Approximately 10 to 20% of women require insulin injections to manage their blood sugar levels. Oral drugs are also available to treat GD, but how effective are they is are question of debate.

  1. Monitoring Your Baby

Your doctor may recommend frequent ultrasounds to check the growth and development of your baby. If you don’t have a labor pain during your due date, a labor pain may be induced as the risk of complications may increase after the due date.

Follow up

After delivery, your blood sugar levels will be checked in six weeks to twelve weeks. If the levels are normal, there are no issues. However, a periodic checking is necessary every two years.

Take-Home Message

Gestational diabetes can be well managed with the right diet and the right set of physical activities.

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