Your doctor, diabetes educator, registered dietitian, and other health professionals can help you learn how to care for yourself and protect your baby from problems. If you learn as much as you can about gestational diabetes, you will have the knowledge you need to have a healthy pregnancy. As you understand how food and exercise affect your blood sugar, you can better control your blood sugar level and help prevent problems from gestational diabetes.
Home treatment for gestational diabetes includes changing the way you eat, exercising regularly, and checking your blood sugar.
Eating healthy foods
Changing what, when, and how much you eat can help keep your blood sugar level in a target range. After you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you may meet with a registered dietitian to decide on an individualized healthy eating plan. Your dietitian may ask you to write down everything you eat and to keep track of your weight. He or she will also teach you how to count carbohydrate in order to spread carbohydrate throughout the day.
Getting regular exercise
Regular, moderate exercise during pregnancy helps your body use insulin better, which helps control your blood sugar level. Often, exercising and eating well can treat gestational diabetes. Try to do at least 2½ hours a week of moderate exercise.3, 4 One way to do this is to be active 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week. It's fine to be active in blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout your day and week.
If you have never exercised regularly or were not exercising before you became pregnant, talk with your doctor before you start exercising. Exercise that does not place too much stress on your lower body-such as using an arm ergometer, a machine that just works your arm muscles; or riding a recumbent bicycle, a type of bike with a seat that looks like a chair-are especially good for pregnant women. You may also want to try special exercise classes for pregnant women or other low-impact activities such as swimming or walking.
If exercise and changing the way you eat keep your blood sugar within a target range, you will not need to take diabetes medicine. If you need to take insulin, make sure you have a quick-sugar food, such as 3 or 4 glucose tablets or 3 pieces of hard candy, with you when you exercise in case you have symptoms of low blood sugar. Symptoms of low blood sugar include sweating, blurred vision, and confusion. If you think that your blood sugar is low, stop exercising, check your blood sugar level, and eat the snack.
Checking your blood sugar
An important part of treating gestational diabetes is checking your blood sugar level at home. Every day, you will do a home blood sugar test one or more times. It may be overwhelming to test your blood sugar so often. But knowing that your level is within a target range can help put your mind at ease. Talk to your doctor about how often to test your blood sugar.
Other aspects of your care
- As you get closer to your due date, you may have a harder time staying in your target blood sugar range. You may need to take diabetes medicine or insulin.
- If you were overweight before you became pregnant, do not try to lose weight while you are pregnant. Ask your doctor how much weight you should gain during your pregnancy.
- Your doctor may have you check kick counts and let him or her know if you think your baby has been moving less than usual.
- If you take insulin, it can cause your blood sugar to drop below the target range. Even though very low blood sugar is rare in women who have gestational diabetes, it is important to know the symptoms of low blood sugar and have quick-sugar foods with you at all times.