Pregnancy comes with many routine screenings and appointments to monitor your health and the health of your growing baby. One of those screenings, the glucose challenge or glucose tolerance test, occurs in the second half of pregnancy.
Understanding how to manage blood sugar levels during pregnancy is crucial to ensure a healthy pregnancy and minimize potential complications. If not properly managed, high blood sugar levels can lead to gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs specifically during pregnancy that affects the health of both mother and baby if not properly managed.
Understanding Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes develops when hormonal changes during pregnancy affect the body's ability to use insulin effectively. It is not directly caused by your diet while pregnant, but your risk is increased if you aren’t at a healthy weight before and during pregnancy.
Pregnant women are commonly given either a glucose challenge test or glucose tolerance test at some point between weeks 24 and 28 of pregnancy to screen for gestational diabetes.
It is important to take a gestational diabetes diagnosis seriously, as it increases the complication risks for both mother and baby. Possible complications include preeclampsia, necessary cesarean delivery and macrosomia (large birth weight). Your OB/GYN or midwife will explain what lifestyle changes or medications are needed after a gestational diabetes diagnosis.
Blood Sugar Management Strategies
Managing blood sugar levels is essential for both a mother’s and her baby’s health and well-being. Consider the following strategies for effective blood sugar management during pregnancy:
- Follow a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats.
- Distribute carbohydrates evenly throughout the day, focusing on complex carbohydrates and avoiding sugary foods and beverages.
Regular Physical Activity
- Engage in moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking or prenatal yoga, as recommended by your health care provider.
- Regular physical activity can help improve insulin sensitivity and regulate blood sugar levels.
- Regularly monitor blood sugar levels using a glucose meter or continuous glucose monitoring system, as advised by your health care provider.
- Keep a record of your readings to track patterns and make necessary adjustments to your management plan.
Prenatal Care and Support
Gestational diabetes management requires close monitoring and support from your care team. For women with gestational diabetes, regular checkups with your health care provider are essential.
Your provider will assess your blood sugar levels and explain whether further steps, such as medication, are necessary. Many gestational diabetes diagnoses can be managed with lifestyle changes. But in some cases, your doctor may prescribe insulin or other medications to help keep blood sugar levels under control during pregnancy. For the safety of you and your baby, it’s important to follow their instructions.
Expert Guidance and Care at AdventHealth
If you have concerns about gestational diabetes or need expert guidance for managing blood sugar levels during pregnancy, we’re here to help. Our experienced OB/GYNs, midwives and high-risk pregnancy specialists offer comprehensive care and support for expectant mothers at every stage of their journey.
Visit our website to learn more about our obstetrics and gynecology services and request an appointment.