Treatment plans for gestational diabetes are created to help you have a healthy pregnancy, keep your baby healthy, and avoid complications. There are many different options and your doctor may have you use one or a combination of them to help maintain tight control of your blood sugar. It is very important to stick to your treatment plan and let your doctor know right away if you are having problems with your levels. Your treatment plan can and may be changed at any time to help keep you as stable as possible. This article will help you understand the different types of treatment options available for you if you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Remember, this is not a substitute for your own doctor’s care and only meant to inform you of the possibilities you may be facing.
Treatment Plans for Gestational Diabetes
Your obstetrician may want you to do one or all of the following options to keep your GD under control. With good planning, you can easily fit these things into your daily routine. If you follow your own specialized plan, you will feel better and avoid any complications with your baby. The following are common options for gestational diabetes treatment:
1. Check Your Blood Sugar Daily
Your doctor may want you to check your blood sugar daily, a few times a day, or before each meal and bedtime. In the beginning, you may have to check your blood sugar more times so your doctor can see the trends and how you react to food and exercise. You may need to make arrangements with your job and find something to carry your glucometer with you wherever you go. Also, it is helpful to make a daily routine so that you don’t forget to check your sugar.
You can place your glucometer next to your bed after you check at night to remind you to check in the morning. Then place it near where you eat your meals to remind you to check before you eat.
You will have to poke your finger with a small needle called a “lancet.” You will place a test strip inside your glucometer and then put the blood on the strip. Your blood sugar level will be displayed in a few seconds and you write it down in your log. This level will also help you determine how much insulin you will need to take before meals.
The hospital will closely monitor your blood sugar during labor and be able to give you insulin if needed. This will help prevent your baby from having low blood sugar after delivery. You will also be advised to maintain checking your blood sugar in the weeks after delivery to make sure your blood sugar stabilizes.
2. Eat Healthy Foods
Eating healthy foods is important for any pregnancy, but very important if you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Your doctor may be able to give you information on what and what not to eat right in the office and you may do just fine with that. If your blood sugars stay to high and you are having trouble, you may be referred to a diabetic educator to help you. Some doctor’s send their expectant mom’s with GD directly to a diabetic educator for teaching. It depends on the doctor, the severity of your condition, and if your insurance will cover the visit.
The one important thing is don’t try to design your own diet. Many people think they need to stop eating carbohydrates and fruits to avoid the sugar. It is important to eat a variety of foods from all the food groups, just in moderation. It is also important to practice self-control with snack foods and sweets. Once in awhile is okay, just not all the time.
Your diet will most likely be designed to give you adequate nutrition from; vegetables, proteins, fruits, and whole grain complex carbohydrates. Fats will be limited and calories monitored. You won’t be cut off from having enough food, because they don’t want you to lose weight. Instead, you will be given a slightly increased calorie plan to maintain yours and baby’s weight. This may be adjusted during your pregnancy to compensate for too little weight gain, blood sugar levels, and your baby’s growth.
3. Physical Activity
If you’re in good health, your doctor may recommend increasing your exercise, as tolerated. It is good for your pregnancy in general, and can help maintain blood sugar levels. When you move your body, you will use up excess blood sugar. It can also help your body use insulin more effectively and get the glucose into your cells and out of your bloodstream.
If you were sedentary prior to pregnancy, your doctor may recommend that you start light exercise at first and work your way up comfortably. Things like swimming and walking are low-impact on your body. Even doing extra activities around your house may help.
4. Medication Options
If you have Type 1 or 2 diabetes, or your blood sugar cannot be controlled with diet and exercise with gestational diabetes, you may need to take diabetic medications during your pregnancy. If you were previously diabetic, you may need changes in your medications from pre-pregnancy doses. You may need to stop oral antidiabetic medications and go on insulin. You may need a combination of both oral medications and insulin. In this case, you may be sent to an endocrinologist to work up a good medication regimen.
Insulin is considered safe for use during pregnancy. As long as you are checking your blood sugars regularly, taking your insulin as directed, and you know how to rescue any low blood sugar occurrences. The insulin used is very close to the insulin our own body produces and generally considered non-toxic in pregnancy.
Previously, it was thought that oral antidiabetic medications were not appropriate for pregnancy. There have been studies that they may possibly be safe for use with an endocrinologist monitoring closely. Some doctors still are not on board with the idea and choose to use only insulin. The studies are limited and this decision is best made between you and your doctor.
5. Frequent Check-Ups for Baby
Your doctor may have you come in for more frequent visits starting in your second trimester, as opposed to the third trimester in most pregnancies. They will need to check to make sure baby isn’t growing too fast and monitor the heart rate.
You may need a few more ultrasounds in the last trimester to monitor baby’s growth. Rest assured that gestational diabetes does not cause birth defects, but you will get extra attention in case there is a problem. This way, the doctor can make a decision to induce labor early, or perform a cesarean section.