How to control sugar level during pregnancy?
Gestational diabetes is a common ailment that affects pregnant women. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) describes this condition as any degree of glucose intolerance that is first recognised at the onset of or during the course of pregnancy. To put it in simpler terms, a woman who was not previously diabetic develops high blood sugar level during pregnancy.
In India, a recent study indicates that around 4 million women are affected by gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) at any given point in time. This galloping surge in the rate of GDM across India is tied to factors such as obesity, poor dietary habits, the increasing prevalence of Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and sedentary or inactive lifestyles.
A spike in blood sugar levels can put pregnant women at high risk for complications, such as:
- Excessive birth weight or macrosomia
- Birth injuries
- Preterm births
- Respiratory distress
- Fetal death (in extreme cases)
Prompt and appropriate management of sugar level during pregnancy is, therefore, essential to minimize any risks to the mother and fetus. In this article, we discuss how to control sugar level during pregnancy.
How do you know if you have high blood sugar?
Unfortunately, symptoms associated with gestational diabetes can be difficult to detect, and the only way to know if you have high blood sugar is to get tested. Normally, all pregnant women are screened for gestational diabetes between 24 and 28 weeks of their pregnancy. However, if high levels of glucose are found in your urine during your early prenatal visits, you may be advised to do a screening even sooner.
The most commonly administered test to check for blood sugar while pregnant is the oral glucose challenge test (OGCT), wherein the doctor will ask you to drink a glucose solution. One hour after you have had this sweet glucose solution, the doctor will draw your blood to check your blood glucose level.
If your blood glucose is above the healthy range (more than 140 mg/dL), you may have to come back for a fasting blood glucose test. For the fasting blood sugar test during your pregnancy, you must abstain from eating or drinking anything but water for at least 8 to 10 hours. This will ensure an accurate measurement of your blood glucose levels.
Tips for controlling blood sugar level during pregnancy
If you think you are at risk of developing gestational diabetes or find out that your blood glucose levels are indeed high, there are several things you can do to control your blood sugar levels naturally. The following general guidelines can help pregnant ladies keep their sugar levels under control:
1. Watch what you eat
The food you eat has an important role to play in keeping your blood sugar levels steady. While some foods can help stabilise and lower your blood sugar during pregnancy, others can cause your blood glucose levels to spike.
It is crucial, therefore, to watch every bite of food that you put into your mouth. Collaborate with your doctor or health care practitioner to create a diet that is healthy for you. Try cutting back on carbs, have smaller and frequent meals, and increase your fibre intake.
2. Include physical activity
Regular and moderate physical workout is both important and beneficial during pregnancy. While it can ease a number of your pregnancy discomforts, exercise is also an effective way to reduce your blood sugar levels. Try to incorporate walking, swimming, prenatal aerobics, or light running in your daily routine.
However, do not begin any physical activity without consulting your doctor first. Health conditions like asthma and heart disease make it unsafe to exercise during pregnancy and could lead to complications.
3. Maintain a healthy weight gain
Keep an eye on the weight you are gaining from the time you learn that you are pregnant. Gaining too much weight, losing weight, or gaining weight too quickly could be an indication of a problem.
It is a good idea to discuss the healthy range of weight gain with your doctor. If you cannot manage your weight gain adequately, your condition could quickly get out of control.
4. Keep a daily record of your blood sugar levels
If you want to control your blood sugar level during pregnancy, you should probably start by testing your glucose levels regularly. Maintain a systematic record of your results, along with information about your diet and exercise.
This will help you determine if your treatment plan is effective or needs modifications. Moreover, you may begin to get a clearer picture of how certain foods and activities affect your blood sugar levels.
5. Get enough sleep
A recent article by the University of Washington School of Medicine indicates that insufficient sleep or lack of sleep could lead to gestational diabetes.
To keep your sugar levels in control during pregnancy, you should get adequate sleep. Make sleep a priority by minimising screen time, exercising, and adopting healthy food habits.
If you are a woman with gestational diabetes, your pregnancy may sometimes feel like a lot of hard work! However, there is no reason for you to feel disillusioned. When managed well, gestational diabetes can be controlled, and you can go on to have a perfectly healthy pregnancy.
Also read: Transitioning to Menopause