. DR. Radha S Rao
Diabetes that occurs in pregnant women is called gestational diabetes. In this condition, high blood sugar develops during pregnancy, because of changes in how the body utilizes insulin. This hormone is responsible for allowing cells to absorb and use sugar or glucose for energy in the body.
During pregnancy, a woman becomes more resistant to insulin to provide the baby with more insulin. Sometimes, the level of blood sugar increases, if your body isn’t making enough insulin or if it isn’t responding to it. This leads to gestational diabetes.
Diabetes mellitus (DM) is one of the most common non communicable diseases globally. It is a major public health problem in India with reported prevalence rate between 4.6%–14% in urban areas and 1.7%–13.2% in rural areas. With increasing prevalence of diabetes, there seems to be an increase in the prevalence of gestational DM (GDM).
The Research suggest that gestational diabetes may affect between 5 and 8 million pregnant women in India annually. The GDM (Gestational Diabetes Mellitus) rate in India is 26.3%, which is highest in the world. India has an estimated 62 million people with Type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM); this number is expected to go up to 79.4 million by 2025.
With gestational diabetes, the risk of C-section, preeclampsia, preterm delivery, miscarriage, stillbirth, a large baby and other health problems for your baby increases.
If you have gestational diabetes, here are some tips for you to keep your blood sugar level under check and prevent the above-mentioned complications –
1.Eating healthy: The first and foremost tip to control your blood sugar is to maintain a diet that is healthy and well-balanced. This can help you manage this condition without medication. Include protein in every meal and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Try to avoid or limit eating foods that are refined or processed. Also make sure that your portion sizes are proper, to avoid overeating. Your meals should be a healthy mix of protein, fats as well as carbohydrates. You can have soaked methi seeds, cinnamon powder, plenty of sprouts, green leafy vegetables, salads, ragi, wheat, oats, etc. in your diet which are diabetes friendly and add nutrition to your diet. If you consume a lot of carbohydrates, your blood sugar level can increase. You should keep healthy alternatives around you to satisfy your cravings while avoiding processed foods. Indulging in protein-rich foods can keep you full and satiated for a longer time so you won’t crave unhealthy foods.
2. Avoid certain foods: While your diet should be healthy and well-balanced, you also need to avoid consuming certain foods including alcoholic beverages, fried food, candy, sweetened cereals, fast food, baked goods, sugary drinks and starchy foods. You can consult a dietitian for proper guidance on what foods to eat and what to avoid.
3. Regular exercise: Engaging in regular exercise is recommended when you are pregnant, irrespective of whether you have gestational diabetes or not. In case you are diabetic, regular physical activity is a must. Exercises such as walking, Yoga or other prenatal exercises can help regulate insulin output as well as blood sugar levels and it is also beneficial for your overall health. However, you should make sure to not over-exercise as it can be harmful to you and your baby. Exercise that doesn’t leave you gasping for air is good. If you aren’t able to breathe, then you need to take it down a notch. You can consult your doctor regarding what exercises you should do and the frequency.
4. Maintaining your ideal weight: It is important to control how much weight you gain during your pregnancy. Your doctor will advise you regarding how much weight to gain, depending on your height and weight at the time of conception.
5. Enough sleep: It is important to get enough sleep and rest during pregnancy hence, you should take some time off and get some rest to avoid overexerting yourself.
6. Medication: Your doctor will prescribe medication if regular exercise and a healthy diet aren’t enough to control your blood sugar levels.
7. Checking blood sugar levels regularly: If you have gestational diabetes, you will have to keep checking your blood sugar levels regularly. As per general guidelines, your blood sugar level before a meal should be between 60 to 99 mg/dl whereas one or two hours after a meal, it should be between 100 to 130 mg/dl.
By following these tips, you can have a healthy pregnancy and keep your diabetes levels under check.