Gestational diabetes is a health concern that arises in around 2-5% of pregnancies. While the majority of women with a gestational diabetes diagnosis manage the condition through diet and exercise alone, around 10 – 20% will require regular insulin injections. Whether you received a diagnosis in your last pregnancy or you're currently experiencing this condition, there are ways to help your obstetrician manage it.
Take part in monitoring your blood glucose levels
Your obstetrician may ask you to monitor your blood glucose levels, which involves taking a small finger prick sample of blood using a handheld device. You should aim for 7.8 mmol/L one hour after meals, or 5.3 mmol/L fasting levels. If you have pre-existing diabetes, your care providers may measure something called your HbA1c, which is a good measure of your blood glucose levels over the last three months. Attending appointments that are set for measuring your HbA1c allows your medical team to form an effective treatment plan that benefits yourself and your baby.
Eat a healthy diet and exercise
While the jury is out on whether exercise leads to any long-term benefits against gestational diabetes, maintaining good glycaemic control reduces the risk of shoulder dystocia, having a c-section, or hypertension-related disorders during your pregnancy. As engaging in exercise and a good diet are an important means of maintaining good glycaemic control, you can form a suitable plan with your obstetrician and include both. During your consultation, talk to your healthcare team about adapting your diet. While many assume sugar is the primary culprit in diabetes, you need to spend more time counting carbohydrates that have a high glycaemic index. Your medical team will help you explore the healthy options that are available to you.
Keep your obstetrician up to speed on changes
Should you find that you can't reduce your blood glucose levels to a manageable range, you may want to discuss the possibility of insulin. Alerting your medical team to any difficulties your facing gives them the opportunity to intervene with medications earlier rather than later, which in turn leads to better birth outcomes for yourself and your baby.
If you're looking for specialist care that'll make adapting to gestational diabetes easier, you may wish to consider a private obstetrician. For those who have experienced this condition in earlier pregnancies and those with a current diabetes diagnosis or a family history of the condition, discussing such matters at an early stage gives you the best chance of enjoying a healthy pregnancy.