Treatment for Gestational Diabetes

crop5_240x240_23jan15It’s essential to monitor and control your blood sugar to keep your baby healthy and avoid complications during pregnancy and delivery. You’ll also want to keep a close eye on your future blood sugar levels.

Your treatment strategies may include the following:

Monitoring your blood sugar: While you’re pregnant, your health care team may ask you to check your blood sugar four to five times a day — first thing in the morning and after meals — to make sure your level stays within a healthy range. This may sound inconvenient and difficult, but it’ll get easier with practice.

Follow-up blood sugar checks are also important: Having gestational diabetes increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Work with your health care team to keep an eye on your levels. Maintaining health-promoting lifestyle habits, such as a healthy diet and regular exercise, can help reduce your risk.

Healthy diet: Eating the right kinds of food in healthy portions is one of the best ways to control your blood sugar and prevent too much weight gain, which can put you at higher risk of complications. Doctors don’t advise losing weight during pregnancy — your body is working hard to support your growing baby. But your doctor can help you set weight gain goals based on your weight before pregnancy.

A healthy diet focuses on fruits, vegetables and whole grains — foods that are high in nutrition and fiber and low in fat and calories — and limits highly refined carbohydrates, including sweets.

Exercise: Regular physical activity plays a key role in every woman’s wellness plan before, during and after pregnancy. Exercise lowers your blood sugar by stimulating your body to move glucose into your cells, where it’s used for energy. Exercise also increases your cells’ sensitivity to insulin, which means your body will need to produce less insulin to transport sugar.

As an added bonus, regular exercise can help relieve some common discomforts of pregnancy, including back pain, muscle cramps, swelling, constipation and trouble sleeping. Exercise can also help get you in shape for the hard work of labor and delivery.

With your doctor’s consent, aim for moderately vigorous exercise on most days of the week. If you haven’t been active for a while, start slowly and build up gradually. Walking, cycling and swimming are good choices during pregnancy. Everyday activities such as housework and gardening also count.

Medication: If diet and exercise aren’t enough, you may need insulin injections to lower your blood sugar. Between 10 and 20 percent of women with gestational diabetes need insulin to reach their blood sugar goals. Some doctors prescribe an oral blood sugar control medication, while others believe more research is needed to confirm that oral drugs are as safe and as effective as injectable insulin to control gestational diabetes.

Close monitoring of your baby: An important part of your treatment plan is close observation of your baby. Your doctor may monitor your baby’s growth and development with repeated ultrasounds or other tests.

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Dr. Rajiv Kovil
Consultant Diabetologist, Dr. Kovil’s Diabetes Care Centre

Dr. Rajiv Kovil is a Consultant Diabetologist at Dr. Kovil’s Diabetes Care Centre, the first Preventive Diabetes Centre & Diabetic Foot Clinic in Mumbai, KLS Memorial Hospital and Holy Spirit Hospital among others. He is a founder member of United Diabetes Forum, a forum of practising diabetologists in India. He has also written various articles on diabetes for medical journals such as Asian Journal of Diabetology and Medical Image. His Preventive Diabetes Centre & Diabetic Foot Clinic is an initiative to provide preventive diabetic measures as well as to function as a specialized Foot Clinic for diabetic patients not only in terms of equipment but more importantly in terms of expertise.

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