Managing your health during pregnancy can be challenging under normal circumstances. However, for expectant mothers also dealing with diabetes, keeping both mother and baby healthy requires even more diligent care and preparation. With diligent blood sugar monitoring, an adjusted diet plan, exercise routines tailored for each trimester, and a supportive care team, women with diabetes can have very successful pregnancies and deliver babies perfectly healthy babies.
While diabetes brings additional concerns during this meaningful life event, taking proactive steps to care for physical and mental well-being means soon-to-be mothers need not feel overwhelmed. With knowledge, planning, and support, pregnancy with diabetes is eminently manageable. In this article, we will explore the specific steps expectant mothers with diabetes can take to have healthy pregnancies.
Understanding Gestational Diabetes
Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (or GDM) is characterized by high blood glucose levels during pregnancy. It develops when the body does not produce enough insulin to meet the demands of pregnancy, leading to high sugar levels in the mother’s bloodstream. The placenta produces hormones that help develop the baby and block insulin production, increasing blood sugar levels.
GDM usually occurs in the second or third trimester and affects about 4% of pregnant women, making it one of the most common health problems during pregnancy. It is also a temporary condition that resolves after delivery, but it can have long-term effects on both mother and baby if not managed properly. An insulin outlet test can determine if you have GDM, and managing pregnancy with diabetes follows a specific plan.
Monitoring Blood Sugar Levels
For women with diabetes during pregnancy, the monitoring of blood sugar levels is crucial. Keeping blood sugar within a specific range reduces the risk of complications for both mother and baby. The target range can vary depending on individual circumstances. Still, it is generally recommended to keep fasting blood glucose levels between 70-95 mg/dL and postprandial (after meal) levels below 120 mg/dL.
To monitor blood sugar levels, expectant mothers must check their glucose multiple times daily. It can be done using a glucose meter measuring the sugar amount in a small drop of blood from the fingertip. Keeping a log of these readings and discussing them with your healthcare team regularly is essential.
In some cases, continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) may be recommended. It is a device that measures blood sugar levels continuously throughout the day and night. It can help detect patterns and trends in blood sugar levels and provide real-time alerts if they are too high or too low.
Keeping a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet is essential for all pregnant women, but it becomes even more critical for those with diabetes. Expecting mothers with diabetes should work closely with a registered dietitian to develop a meal plan that meets their needs. The meal plan will balance carbohydrate intake and insulin doses to stabilize blood sugar levels.
During the first trimester, dietary changes may not be necessary, but expectant mothers may need to make adjustments as pregnancy progresses and insulin resistance increases. It can involve eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day and choosing low glycemic index foods that have a gentler effect on blood sugar levels. Additionally, it is essential to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoiding sugary drinks. High blood sugar levels can cause dehydration, which may lead to other complications.
Getting Regular Exercise
Regular exercise benefits everyone, and this holds particularly true for pregnant women with diabetes. Exercise can help keep blood sugar levels in check, improve insulin sensitivity, and prevent excessive weight gain during pregnancy. It also has benefits for both mental and emotional well-being.
However, discussing an exercise plan with your healthcare team before starting any physical activity is essential. The type, duration, and intensity of exercise may vary depending on factors such as pre-pregnancy fitness level, current health status, and pregnancy complications. Generally, low-impact activities like walking, swimming, and prenatal yoga are suitable for most pregnant women with diabetes.
Consulting Your Healthcare Team
Throughout the pregnancy journey, it is crucial to have regular check-ups with your healthcare team. It includes your obstetrician and endocrinologist, who can help monitor both mother and baby’s health and make necessary adjustments to medication or treatment plans. It is also essential to keep open communication with your care team and seek their advice if you experience any concerning symptoms or changes in blood sugar levels.
In addition to medical professionals, it can also be helpful to connect with other women who have gone through or are currently going through a pregnancy with diabetes. They can provide valuable insights, support, and encouragement throughout the journey.
Managing Stress Levels
Pregnancy can be an incredibly transformative and sometimes overwhelming experience for any expectant mother. The physical and emotional changes during this time can contribute to increased stress levels, which can impact overall well-being. It is essential for women with diabetes, as stress has the potential to disrupt blood sugar control and pose additional challenges.
To effectively manage stress during pregnancy, developing a range of coping mechanisms that can provide support and relief is beneficial. It may include incorporating relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises or guided imagery, into daily routines. Mindfulness practices, such as meditation or gentle yoga, can also help cultivate a sense of calm and promote emotional balance.