Gestational Diabetes – all you need to know

Gestational Diabetes: pregnant mum holding belly in peach top

If you have been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, fear not. You can totally handle this and you are certainly not alone. Here is all you need to know about gestational diabetes.

Rapid Fire Facts

  • Gestational diabetes is the fastest growing type of diabetes in Australia
  • Between 12% and 14% of pregnant women will develop gestational diabetes
  • Usually occurs around the 24th to 28th week of pregnancy
  • Often managed with healthy eating and regular physical activity
  • Usually disappears after the birth of your baby

What is Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is diagnosed during pregnancy when your body doesn’t cope with the extra demand for insulin production resulting in high blood glucose levels. Management usually consists of monitoring blood glucose levels, healthy eating and regular physical activity but in some cases, women may require medication (metformin) and/or insulin injections. Effective management will reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy and the birth of your baby.

What you need to do:

Gestational diabetes healthy diet

Eat right

  • Eat small amounts often
  • Spread your carbs over three small meals and 2-3 snacks per day.
  • Include some carbs in every meal and snack (e.g. Multigrain bread, pasta, potato, lentils, chickpeas, beans)
  • Make sure you are still getting the nutrients you need during pregnancy. This means foods which include:

• Calcium: milk and cheese
Iron: red meat, chicken and fish
• Folic acid: green leafy vegetables

  • Reduce unsaturated fats. Use oils such as canola, olive and polyunsaturated oils and margarines, and use lean meats such as skinless chicken and low-fat dairy foods.
  • Avoid foods and drinks containing large amounts of sugar
  • Choose foods that have a lower GI and will help you to stay fuller for longer (eg. Basmati or Doongara rices)
  • Speak to a dietitian for expert advice on healthy food choices and the best nutrients for you and your bub.

Get moving

Physical activity helps manage blood glucose levels. That doesn’t mean you need to hit the weights or run 10km a day. A brisk walk or taking the stairs instead of the lift, or if you have other kids, lifting or playing with them is all it takes.

What you didn’t know:

  • The use of sweeteners by people with diabetes is preferable to use of natural sugars.
  • Supplement with vitamin D: Vitamin D is used for insulin protection. Supplementation has been shown to increase the chances of a healthy pregnancy and baby in women with gestational diabetes.
  • Spice up your life: Cinnamon can control blood glucose levels in the same way metformin can (medication given to control blood sugar). You can take cinnamon as a supplement or add it to your food daily.

With these small adjustments and little tricks, you and your body will thank you.

For more information on Gestational Diabetes, visit Diabetes Australia.

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