How to Treat Gestational Diabetes
Because gestational diabetes can hurt you and your baby, you need to start treatment quickly.
Treatment for gestational diabetes aims to keep blood glucose levels equal to those of pregnant women who don't have gestational diabetes. Treatment for gestational diabetes always includes special meal plans and scheduled physical activity. It may also include daily blood glucose testing and insulin injections.
If you're testing your blood glucose, the American Diabetes Association suggests the following targets for women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. More or less stringent glycemic goals may be appropriate for each individual.
- Before a meal (preprandial): 95 mg/dl or less
- 1-hour after a meal (postprandial): 140 mg/dl or less
- 2-hours after a meal (postprandial): 120 mg/dl or less
You will need help from your doctor, nurse educator, and other members of your health care team so that your treatment for gestational diabetes can be changed as needed. For you as the mother-to-be, treatment for gestational diabetes helps lower the risk of a cesarean section birth that very large babies may require.
Sticking with your treatment for gestational diabetes will give you a healthy pregnancy and birth, and may help your baby avoid future poor health. You may also be interested in our book, Diabetes & Pregnancy: A Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy.
Keeping worry in perspective
While gestational diabetes is a cause for concern, the good news is that you and your health care team - your doctor, obstetrician, nurse educator, and dietitian - work together to lower your high blood glucose levels. And with this help, you can turn your concern into a healthy pregnancy for you, and a healthy start for your baby.
Gestational diabetes – Looking ahead
Gestational diabetes usually goes away after pregnancy. But once you've had gestational diabetes, your chances are 2 in 3 that it will return in future pregnancies. In a few women, however, pregnancy uncovers type 1 or type 2 diabetes. It is hard to tell whether these women have gestational diabetes or have just started showing their diabetes during pregnancy. These women will need to continue diabetes treatment after pregnancy.
Many women who have gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes years later. There seems to be a link between the tendency to have gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes both involve insulin resistance. Certain basic lifestyle changes may help prevent diabetes after gestational diabetes.
Lower your risk for diabetes by losing weight
Are you more than 20% over your ideal body weight? Losing even a few pounds can help you avoid developing type 2 diabetes.
Making healthy food choices Follow simple daily guidelines, like eating a variety of foods including fresh fruits and vegetables, limiting fat intake to 30% or less of daily calories, and watching your portion size. Healthy eating habits can go a long way in preventing diabetes and other health problems.
Exercising Regular exercise allows your body to use glucose without extra insulin. This helps combat insulin resistance and is what makes exercise helpful to people with diabetes. Never start an exercise program without checking with your doctor first.
Last Reviewed: June 7, 2013
Last Edited: July 2, 2013
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