If you are at risk or have been diagnosed, healthy food choices are even more important.
What is Gestational Diabetes?
Gestational diabetes occurs when blood sugar or glucose levels become too high while you are pregnant. Hormones in your body increase significantly and can interfere with insulin production, which controls the levels of sugar in your blood.
While gestational diabetes usually goes away after delivery, having it during pregnancy increases your risk later. It is important that you are monitored by your physician to avoid complications and ensure ongoing health for you and your baby.
What’s my risk?
The risk of developing gestational diabetes increases if you:
- Are older than 25 or overweight prior to pregnancy
- Have a family history of diabetes
- Previously had gestational diabetes
- Stillbirth in a previous pregnancy
- Are African American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic, Latina, or Pacific Islander.
Is it dangerous to baby?
Most women with gestational diabetes give birth to healthy babies, especially if they control their blood sugar, eat a healthy diet, exercise, and maintain a healthy weight.
However, diabetes during pregnancy does place your baby at risk for:
- Large birth weight, which can lead to a cesarean section or difficult delivery
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) after birth
- Respiratory distress syndrome
- Increased chance of obesity or type 2 diabetes later in life
Using nutrition to counter diabetes
Fortunately, a good diet can help control symptoms of diabetes and regulate blood sugar.
During gestational diabetes, blood glucose is controlled with a combination of tools, including a meal plan, a physical-activity plan, and insulin (if needed).
Ask your doctor for a consult with a registered dietitian to develop an eating plan, which can help you maintain optimal blood sugar levels while you are still getting the vital nutrients your body and baby need.
- Establish a regular eating schedule with three moderate meals and planned snacks throughout the day.
- Monitor blood sugar levels according to your doctor's advice.
- Limit excessive sugars by following your meal plan with regard to foods such as desserts and fruit juices.
- Get enough fiber. The fiber in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes can help control levels of sugar in the blood.
- Maintain a healthy weight, gaining only the recommended amount during pregnancy. Learn more about healthy pregnancy weight gain
- Stay active with moderate exercise with your doctor's approval.
- Continue eating healthy after pregnancy. Women who develop gestational diabetes are at a higher risk for diabetes after pregnancy, which makes it absolutely essential to eat healthy even after delivery.
NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/gestational. Accessed 10/14/15.
American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists.
http://www.acog.org/patients/faqs/gestational-diabetes. Accessed 10/14/15.