Since diabetes during pregnancy can lead to serious health risks for both the mother and the baby, treating it should be a priority. What practices are involved in managing gestational diabetes naturally? Read on to find out.
Stick to a healthy diet
One of the most critical steps in managing gestational diabetes naturally is to maintain a healthy diet. To effectively do this, your doctor may refer you to a nutritionist or dietician who will likley advise you to:
When you have gestational diabetes, eating regularly is crucial because it helps manage your blood sugar levels.
Usually, the dietician will encourage you to distribute your food portions into three meals and two snacks, as overeating in one sitting can lead to a spike in your blood glucose.
You will also be discouraged to skip meals as it can result in hypoglycemia or decreased blood sugar.
Choose your foods carefully
Part of sticking to a healthy diet is to choose your foods carefully. Consider the following tips:
- Select foods with a low glycemic index (GI). Foods with low GI release sugar slowly, so they don’t affect blood glucose levels that much. Examples of foods with a low GI are whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, green veggies, and most fruits.
- Aim for a variety of fruits and vegetables. Daily, try to have 5 portions of veggies and 1 to 3 portions of fruits. For vegetables, 1 serving is usually equivalent to 1 cup or about 340 grams. For fruits, 1 serving is usually ½ cup or 170 grams. Read more about food portions here.
- Avoid sugary foods and drinks. In managing gestational diabetes naturally, swap sugar-rich foods like cake and biscuits with healthy alternatives like nuts and seeds or fruits. Additionally, avoid processed drinks like soft drinks and fruit juices with artificial flavoring.
- Use artificial sweeteners. Some artificial sweeteners have been approved as safe for pregnant women. Approved sweeteners include aspartame and sucralose.
- Be careful with some sugar-free products. Some sugar-free products are safe in moderation because they contain approved artificial sweeteners. However, if they have “sugar-alcohols” such as mannitol and sorbitol, they may still cause a blood sugar spike.
- Have adequate protein. Choose lean sources of protein such as fish and white-meat poultry.
Take note of various nutrients
The daily requirement for some nutrients like calcium, iron, and folic acid increases with pregnancy.
If your doctor gives you food supplements to ensure that you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals, don’t forget to take them as advised.
The home management for gestational diabetes includes having 30 to 60 minutes of exercise daily. You don’t have to do a physical activity for 30 minutes straight; for instance, you can work out 10 minutes at a time.
Performing regular exercise is vital in improving insulin resistance, the main cause of diabetes. But what activities are safe to perform when you’re pregnant?
Generally, you can do:
- Low-impact aerobic exercises like walking, swimming, and stationary cycling.
- Kegel exercises for your pelvic floor muscles.
- Exercises that promote flexibility like yoga and light stretches.
Reports say that walking is the best exercise for women with gestational diabetes. So, find ways to walk more while you’re doing your daily activities. Good practices include:
- Walking instead of driving to nearby stores
- Taking the stairs instead of using the elevator
- Doing some gardening
- Standing and moving around while using your phone
Important Reminders about Staying Active
Before you decide to get active, consult your doctor first for an appropriate exercise routine.
Additionally, bear the following suggestions in mind:
- Avoid exercises that increase the risk of fall accidents
- Avoid working out when it’s hot and humid, especially in the first trimester, as your growing baby cannot tolerate heat that well.
- Try not to stay in the same position for a long time, as it can cause low blood pressure.
- In your 4th month, avoid doing workouts while lying flat on your back.
- Change positions slowly; sudden shifts in positions can cause ligament pain.
Monitor your blood sugar levels
Managing gestational diabetes naturally means you need to check your blood sugar level regularly.
Don’t hesitate to seek clarification with your doctor about the following:
- The proper way to use the glucose monitoring device. Before leaving the clinic, ask for a “test run” so the doctor can see if you’re doing things correctly.
- When to check your blood sugar level. Usually, patients are advised to check their glucose once before breakfast and then one hour after every meal. The doctor may also ask you to monitor your sugar before and after exercising, especially if you need to have insulin therapy.
- Your target sugar levels. If you’re using a typical glucometer, the measurement will be in mg/dl unit.
Take your medications as prescribed
Sometimes, managing gestational diabetes naturally is not enough.
If your blood glucose levels do not show improvement after a week or two of lifestyle and dietary changes, the doctor might give you some medications to treat your diabetes.
The medications can come in the form of tablets or insulin injections.
Monitor your pregnancy
When not managed well, gestational diabetes can cause health complications for you and your baby, including:
- Macrosomia – This happens when your baby weighs more than 4 kilograms at birth. Large babies can cause injuries to the mother during labor and delivery.
- Preeclampsia – A condition wherein the woman develops high blood pressure and protein in her urine. This usually means that the kidney and liver are not working properly.
- Stillbirth – Gestational diabetes also seems to increase the risk of stillbirth or the baby’s death after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Because of these complications, expect that your doctor will ask for a more frequent prenatal visit.
They will probably order an ultrasound scan on weeks 18, 20, 28, 32, and 36. Additionally, there might be regular check-ups starting week 38.
To prevent the complications of diabetes during pregnancy, remember that the home management for gestational diabetes mostly centers on maintaining a healthy diet, performing regular exercise, taking your medications, and monitoring your sugar levels and the status of your pregnancy.
Learn more about Gestational Diabetes here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.