I have gestational diabetes – what should I do?
If you’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes the most important thing is not to panic.
Gestational diabetes can be managed. It’s important to look after yourself and maintain good health to safeguard both you and your baby. Your actions now, can help prevent complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
What can I do to manage gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is managed by:
- following a healthy eating plan,
- doing regular physical activity, and
- monitoring blood glucose levels.
This will help keep blood glucose levels within the target range for a healthy pregnancy. It will also help you to manage your pregnancy weight gain. If your blood glucose can’t be controlled by diet, you may need to take tablets or insulin injections to manage elevated blood glucose levels.
Healthy eating is important to help you keep blood glucose levels within the target range, and to provide all your nutritional needs for pregnancy and a healthy pregnancy weight gain.
Eating well for gestational diabetes includes choosing the right type and amount of carbohydrate foods, limiting foods high in saturated fat, and eating a variety of nutritious foods.
Physical activity can help you manage your blood glucose levels and pregnancy weight gain, as well as keep you fit to prepare for the birth of your baby. It also has other benefits, such as managing pregnancy symptoms like heartburn, constipation and lower back pain. Talk to your doctor before starting or continuing any form of physical activity while you are pregnant. When you have gestational diabetes, it’s important to try and be active every day. Activities could include swimming, brisk walking, pregnancy yoga or pilates, and aqua fitness classes.
Monitoring blood glucose levels
Blood glucose monitoring is an essential part of managing gestational diabetes. A diabetes educator can show you how to check your blood glucose levels using a blood glucose meter and advise you on target levels for pregnancy.
The most common times to check blood glucose levels are when you wake up in the morning (fasting) and one or two hours after each main meal. Regular blood glucose monitoring can be helpful for understanding the effects of food and physical activity on blood glucose levels. Keep a record of your blood glucose readings so that your diabetes health professionals can help you look for any patterns in your blood glucose levels. They can also advise you on what to do if your blood glucose levels are outside the target range.
Who else can help me?
When you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes there are health professionals who can help you manage this condition. This includes specialist doctors, diabetes educators and dietitians. They can work with you to help keep your blood glucose levels within the target range. This will provide the best outcome for both you and your baby.
For more information about gestational diabetes download our helpful factsheet