Gestational Diabetes - Treatment Overview
Finding out that you have
gestational diabetes can be scary. It can be
reassuring to know that most women who have gestational diabetes give birth to
healthy babies and that you are the most important person in promoting a
Treatment for gestational diabetes involves making healthy choices. Most
women who make changes in the way that they eat and how often they exercise are
able to keep their blood sugar level within a
target range. Controlling your
blood sugar is the key to preventing problems during pregnancy or birth.
You, your doctor, and other health professionals will work together to
develop a treatment plan just for you. You do not need to eat strange or
special foods. But you may need to change what, when, and how much you eat. You
also do not need to start a fancy exercise program or join an expensive gym.
Walking several times a week can really help your blood sugar.
The lifestyle changes you make now will help you have a healthy pregnancy
and prevent diabetes in the future. As you start making these changes, you will
learn more about your body and how it reacts to food and exercise. You may also
notice that you feel better and have more energy.
Treatment for gestational
diabetes during pregnancy includes:
- Eating a balanced diet. After you find out that you have gestational diabetes, you will
meet with a
registered dietitian to create a
healthy eating plan. You will learn how to limit the
carbohydrate you eat as a way to control your blood
sugar. You may also be asked to write down everything you eat and to keep track
of your weight. In general, it is not a good idea to diet while you are
pregnant. Most doctors recommend that women gain
25 lb (11.3 kg) to
35 lb (15.9 kg) during
pregnancy. But if you are overweight or
obese, your doctor may recommend that you eat less and
gain less weight than other pregnant women. Overweight or obese women have a
higher risk for
high blood pressure and a blood circulation problem
- Getting regular exercise.
Try to do at least 2½ hours a week of moderate exercise.4, 5 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. Regular, moderate
exercise during pregnancy helps your body use
insulin better and helps control your blood sugar
level. If you have never exercised regularly or were not exercising before you
became pregnant, talk with your doctor before you start exercising. Low-impact
activities, such as walking or swimming, are especially good for pregnant
women. You may also want to try special exercise classes for pregnant
- Checking blood sugar levels. 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.
- Monitoring fetal growth and well-being. Your doctor may want you to monitor fetal movements called
kick counts and let him or her know if you think your
baby is moving less than usual. You may also have
fetal ultrasounds to see how well your baby is
growing. You may have a
nonstress test to check how well your baby's heart
responds to movement.
- Getting regular medical checkups. Having gestational diabetes means regular
visits to your doctor. At these visits, your doctor will check your blood
pressure and test a sample of your urine. You will also discuss your blood
sugar levels, what you have been eating, how much you have been exercising, and
how much weight you have gained.
- Taking insulin shots.
The first way to treat gestational diabetes is by changing the way you eat and
exercising regularly. If your blood sugar levels are still too high after
changing the way you eat and exercising regularly, you may need insulin shots.
Insulin can help lower your blood sugar level without harming your
baby. Some doctors are using pills called
glyburide and metformin to treat
women who have gestational diabetes.