Managing your blood sugar levels is one of the most important things to do during pregnancy. Sometimes, women develop gestational diabetes where the blood sugar levels go too high during the pregnancy. In most women it is temporary. However, it can persist in some women and develop into type 2 diabetes.
Most pregnant women are evaluated for gestational diabetes around their 24-28th week of pregnancy. However, certain risk factors might make your doctor test you earlier that can include:
- Age: If you are over 25 years of age.
- Family history: Someone in the family has diabetes.
- Weight: If you are overweight or have a BMI > 25.
- History: If you have had gestational diabetes before.
- Ethnicity: If you are African-American, Asian, Native American, Asian American or Hispanic.
What are the risks of Gestational Diabetes?
- Birth Weight: The extra glucose makes the pancreas of the baby produce more insulin, which can make the child grow quite large (macrosomia).
- Preterm Birth: It increases the chance of going into early labour.
- Diabetes: The baby can develop type 2 diabetes at some point in time in the future.
Target blood sugar levels
Experts recommend maintaining a mean plasma glucose level ~105 – 110 mg/ dL for the good fetal outcome. It can be attained if the Fasting plasma glucose and 2-hour postprandial peaks are ~90 mg/dL and ~120 mg/dL, respectively.
Ways to lower your blood sugar levels during pregnancy
- Regular Monitoring: If you do have gestational diabetes, you’ll need to monitor your blood sugar levels often using a meter and have regular follow-ups with your doctor.
- Foods with Low GI: One of the best ways to keep your glucose levels in check is to eat foods that have a low glycemic index like beans, whole grains, non-starchy vegetables and most fruit. Stay away from sugary snacks and include more fibre.
- Physical Activity: It is important to engage in light activity to keep your sugar levels under control after checking with your doctor. Walking is the best form of exercise during this time.
Discuss with your doctor if you develop gestational diabetes who help you maintain the blood sugar levels in a targeted zone.
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- Langer O, Levy J, Brustman L, et al. Glycemic control in gestational diabetes mellitus—how tight is tight enough: small for gestational age versus large for gestational age? Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1989;161(3):646- 53.