What's Up With Gestational Diabetes

Rachel Kofsky, MA, RD, CSP, CDN

So you made it through the early months of pregnancy! Niiice. For some, you may actually feel good again. For others, you’ve got your new outfits and bras lined up. You’re in a pregnancy groove. Lucky for you (sense the sarcasm) – in the second half of your pregnancy there’s one more test that could change things up. Get ready to drink a pretty poor tasting drink to test for something called gestational diabetes. Bring it on.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

First, gestational diabetes is related to diabetes; something your family or friends might have. Up to 10% of women who deliver every year are diagnosed with gestational diabetes (GDM). It is a form of carb intolerance that’s recognized during pregnancy. And, in most cases it resolves once the baby is born. Yeah, you read that right- it goes away. There are two classes, A1 and A2. A1 can be managed through diet and exercise. A2 requires insulin, a hormone that exists in the body. Those who have A2 need additional insulin provided to help control blood sugar in the body.

How Can I Tell If I Have It?

Good question! There are some things to watch out for, but warning… It may sound just like your normal pregnancy day. You may want to speak to your doctor if you notice you are thirstier than normal, more hungry than usual and using the restroom more often (number 1 that is). Further, these symptoms can also be chalked up to pregnancy, which is why it’s typically caught during doctor’s visits. Don’t freak out if this is what pregnancy has been for you.

The OGTT Gestational Diabetes Test

Next, every woman will take a test. So, that means, most women are diagnosed with a test called an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT). Expect this to happen between 24-28 weeks of pregnancy. This involves drinking a high sugar beverage that will raise your blood sugar. It doesn’t taste great. Next, you wait. After about an hour, you will give some blood and the lab will test your blood sugar. Based on these numbers, you may or may not be diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

Some Risk Factors

You may be at higher risk for GDM for several reasons. Here’s the round up:

  • Overweight status pre-pregnancy
  • Women who are African American, Asian, Hispanic or Native American tend to be at higher risk
  • Being prediabetic pre-pregnancy
  • Having a family history of diabetes
  • Having gestational diabetes in previous pregnancies
  • If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure

How to Manage Gestational Diabetes

Lastly, the important thing is you and your baby are going to be fine. There are several ways to manage and keep tabs on your GDM if you get diagnosed.

Food-wise tips

  • Limit your breakfast meal to only two servings of carbs. As an example: 1 slice of bread (serving 1), 1 glass of milk (serving 2) , 2 scrambled eggs and half an avocado. This is just one example of an optimal breakfast.
  • Keep a food journal. This way your care team can identify when/how your sugars may be higher than desired. If the practice you visit doesn’t have a nutritionist in house; Foublie can help you find one!
  • Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages like juice, fruit drinks, soda, lemonade and sweetened iced tea. More beverages than you think have added sugar. The safest bet is to stick to water, sparkling water or coffee (in moderation). Why? Sugar sweetened beverages raise your sugar super quickly, and it’s really hard for the body to safely bring these down for you and the baby. Drinking sugar is VERY DIFFERENT than eating fruit or bread for example.
  • Balance at meals is key. That means combining 2 foods together. It’s better to have a banana with peanut butter than a banana alone. The fat and protein in the peanut butter will help slow down the rise in blood sugar that naturally happens after we eat.
  • Have a bedtime snack to prevent low blood sugar overnight.
  • Eat every 3-4 hours. This will help keep blood sugars consistent throughout the day.

 

Movement helps too

  • Incorporate exercise into your routine. Even walking for 10 minutes can make a huge difference in sugar levels.
  • Walk after meals. This can be helpful to mobilize sugar. Try walking your pet after a meal or ask a friend/your partner to take a walk with you.
 

Gestational Diabetes? You’ve Got This!

In conclusion, please remember this advice does not replace the guidance of your MD or dietitian. We’ve heard from many of you that following a diagnosis, you’re just sent home. Sorry! If that’s the case, chat with a Fooblie Coach and we’ll help you make a plan.