If you have a glucose test coming up or you’ve already been diagnosed with gestational diabetes (also known as GD), you might be concerned about the role it can have in your pregnancy. Between 3% and 8% of women develop GD and the diagnosis is usually delivered between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy.
What is GD?
GD occurs when your body becomes unable to produce the right level of insulin for the amount of glucose in your bloodstream. Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose move from the blood into the cells, where it can be used to power your body. You are more susceptible to diabetes during pregnancy for two reasons:
- Your insulin requirements are two to three times higher in mid to late pregnancy and sometimes our bodies just can’t keep up with the production
- The additional hormones produced by the placenta are wreaking havoc on your body and preventing your cells from letting the glucose in
How can it affect me and my baby?
Most women with GD give birth to perfectly healthy babies but there are a few health outcomes that you’ll have a higher risk of. If you are diagnosed with GD, your likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes in the future increases by up to 70% and can have many serious health consequences. Women with GD often give birth to larger babies, as sugar that is stuck in the mothers’ bloodstream travels through the placenta and increases their growth. This means a more difficult delivery for you, with an increased risk of requiring a C-section. These babies are also more prone to becoming obese and developing type 2 diabetes in later life.
What can I do about it?
Luckily, GD often fixes itself after your baby is born but until then, it’s very manageable. Here are a few ways you can alter your diet if your glucose test diagnoses you with GD or puts you close to the borderline.
- Eat a small meal every three to five hours – don’t eat a day’s worth of food at once!
- Include some sort of carbohydrate (like brown rice, pasta or wholemeal bread) in every meal
- Eat foods that are full of key vitamins and minerals, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy – don’t fill up on foods that won’t deliver any nutrition to you or your bub, and
- Minimise your intake of junk food, especially those high in sugar and saturated fats
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with GD or just want to know more, have a watch of this video on my YouTube channel, Nourish with Melanie – I talk you through the ins and outs of GD, including tips on how you and your baby can stay healthy.
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