If you have gestational diabetes, you will need to monitor your blood glucose and manage your diet and lifestyle.
Monitoring blood glucose levels
You will get a glucose meter to self-test blood glucose levels every day. The meter measures blood glucose from a small drop of blood.
Keep a record of your blood glucose levels. Bring the record and the meter with you to each visit to your midwife, GP or obstetrician.
Making healthy food choices is even more important if you have gestational diabetes to keep blood glucose levels from getting too high. Eating regularly helps avoid changes in the blood glucose level. Eating 3 meals and 2 to 3 snacks per day is usually enough.
All foods containing carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice, fruit, yogurt and foods with added sugar break down into glucose. You will need to be careful with portion sizes and choose the right types, for example wholegrain varieties. Eat a wide variety of foods to get nutrients such as protein, calcium, folic acid, iron, vitamin D, iodine and omega 3 fats. These help your baby's development.
It is also important to gain a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy. Too much weight gained or weight gained too quickly can make it harder to keep blood glucose levels under control.
Exercising regularly helps keep glucose levels within normal targets to manage gestational diabetes.
You should do 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise at least 5 days a week, or at least 150 minutes a week. Walking is a great exercise for pregnant women. As well as weekly aerobic exercise, it’s a good idea to walk for 10 to 15 minutes after each meal. This can lead to better blood glucose control.
Some women may need medication to help reach normal blood glucose levels even with diet changes and exercise.
Insulin injections are the usual medication during pregnancy to help women control their blood glucose. Insulin does not cross the placenta, so it doesn’t affect the baby. Oral medication or tablets such as Metformin can be used to treat gestational diabetes.
Tests and scans
Regular monitoring of your baby in the womb is an important part of managing gestational diabetes. You should have regular scans to monitor your baby's growth.
You may need tests to check your baby's health in the womb. This monitoring helps your healthcare team spot possible problems and take steps to manage them.
Monitoring can include:
- ultrasound scan and doppler measurements - to check your baby’s growth and health at certain stages of pregnancy
- cardiotocography (CTG) - to measure your baby’s heart rate
Every mother should feel her baby’s movements. They usually start between 16 to 24 weeks. A healthy baby in the womb tends to move the same amount each day.
Contact your hospital or go there immediately if you feel any difference or change in the pattern of your baby’s activity or movements.