gestational diabetes self-care

Self-Care Methods for Gestational Diabetes

Pregnancy and Blood Sugar

Gestational diabetes impacts about 8% of pregnant women. This type of diabetes develops during pregnancy when the person has not had prior diabetes diagnoses. The main marker of this condition is high blood sugar, which can lead to complications at birth and with high blood pressure.

If you’ve recently received a gestational diabetes diagnosis, rest assured you aren’t alone and that there are various ways to manage it. With a bit of gestational diabetes self-care, you can have a safe and healthy pregnancy. So, let’s take a closer look. What should you include in your self-care plan?

Gestational Diabetes Self-Care Tips

Unfortunately, the hormones produced during pregnancy can sometimes block insulin—an important hormone for moving sugar into the body’s cells. In turn, this can lead to a high blood sugar level and gestational diabetes.

In fact, most women won’t necessarily experience any symptoms. Some may have mild symptoms, such as increased thirst or shakiness. It may also impact blood pressure, which can be a risk factor for an array of other health issues.

So, how can you properly care for yourself despite a gestational diabetes diagnosis? Here are a few tips to keep your blood glucose under control at home.

1. Stick to a Healthy Eating Plan

Most gestational diabetes self-care diets involve a holistic, healthy eating approach. This can not only help keep your blood sugar levels under control but also provide precious nutrients to your growing baby. Some tips include:

  • Eating plenty of whole fruits and vegetables.
  • Incorporating lean protein, such as chicken breast, white fish, pork loin, lean beef, and tuna.
  • Incorporating whole grains and starchy vegetables for plenty of fiber. Fiber helps manage blood sugar levels by creating a gel-like substance in the digestive tract; this slows down the rate of digestion and helps avoid blood sugar spikes.
  • Reducing foods high in sugar or those that are heavily processed. This often means making food at home and avoiding pre-packaged food items. Oftentimes, these are simply empty calories with few nutritional components.
  • Eating three meals a day with one to two small snacks in between. Don’t skip any meals, as this can impact blood sugar negatively.
  • Consider walking for a few minutes after eating to manage blood glucose.

2. Perform Low-Impact Exercise

Most times, your doctor won’t necessarily recommend starting any new exercise. Yet, most can benefit from walking for 30-60 minutes per day or a minimum of three times per week. As mentioned above, this can be particularly beneficial post-meal to manage blood sugar levels.

Swimming, biking, or using an elliptical may provide similar benefits.

If you’re unsure what you should be doing, discuss your options with your doctor. They can advise you on the type of exercise and how much exercise is appropriate for you and your situation.

3. Do Regular Blood Sugar Monitoring

While some women may require insulin shots or oral medications, your doctor will likely recommend you test your blood sugar regularly at home either way. This often involves using a blood glucose monitor, which will report whether your blood sugar is high or low. You’ll probably need to do this a few times a day or around meal times.

This can help you determine whether things are getting better or not. It also will provide your doctor with data to go off of to determine the next steps in your care or treatment plan.

4. Have Continual Discussions With Your Doctor

Throughout your pregnancy, continue discussions with your doctor regarding your blood sugar or gestational diabetes status. Monitoring and re-visiting things at each check-up can help determine the right path forward and ensure you and your baby are safe, healthy, and happy.

5. Keep Your Stress Levels In Check

With high stress comes high cortisol. The problem with cortisol is that it can increase blood sugar levels. This may make it hard to get your blood sugar under control. Thus, it may be important for you to assess your stress levels and include stress-reducing techniques as part of your self-care plan.

Some examples include:

  • Getting a foot massage.
  • Practicing deep breathing.
  • Meditating regularly.
  • Using aromatherapy.
  • Practicing yoga.
  • Painting or drawing.
  • Reading a book.

Or finding other ways that help relax you. For example, some individuals might find cooking or walking helps them de-stress. It’s all about finding what works for you and your life.

If you’re still unsure what you should be doing, your best bet is to talk about it with your doctor. Additionally, finding local mom-to-be groups in your area can help you connect with others going through a similar experience. Social bonding can also help you de-stress and feel less alone throughout the next nine months.

Check out these 10 warning signs of diabetes.

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