Ges­ta­tional di­a­betes: what is it?

Your Pregnancy - - Contents -

“Only two to five per­cent of preg­nant women suf­fer from ges­ta­tional di­a­betes,” says Johannesburg-based clin­i­cal di­eti­cian Kate Tat­ter­sall. “It’s more com­mon in women who were over­weight be­fore they fell preg­nant, who had raised blood sugar lev­els be­fore they fell preg­nant, who’ve had ges­ta­tional di­a­betes in a pre­vi­ous preg­nancy, or who have a fam­ily history of di­a­betes.” And, in­ter­est­ingly, cer­tain eth­nic groups are also more at risk, specif­i­cally Africans and Asians.

Im­por­tantly, weight gain is closely linked to ges­ta­tional di­a­betes, so a poor diet and lack of ex­er­cise can be trig­gers. “If you strug­gle with ex­cess weight, try to lose the weight be­fore try­ing to fall preg­nant,” Kate ad­vises.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS TO MOM AND BABY?

Un­for­tu­nately high blood sugar can

FOR THE BABY

An early de­liv­ery can mean that the baby’s or­gans aren’t fully de­vel­oped be­fore birth, and this can re­sult in a res­pi­ra­tory dis­tress syn­drome, which means the lungs don’t work prop­erly which could mean time spent in the NICU (neona­tal in­ten­sive care unit).

The baby’s liver may also not work well, which can re­sult in jaun­dice.

If your blood sugar lev­els stay high, your baby’s body will make ex­tra in­sulin, and this can re­sult in the baby hav­ing low blood sugar at birth.

Very rarely, the baby could die in the womb.

WHAT TO DO IF I’M DI­AG­NOSED WITH GES­TA­TIONAL DI­A­BETES?

“Once the di­ag­no­sis has been con­firmed, it’s im­por­tant to fol­low your doc­tor’s in­struc­tions, which will in­clude di­etary ad­vice in or­der to re­duce the risk of com­pli­ca­tions,” says Dr Matambo.

Your doc­tor will want to regularly check your blood sugar to make sure it’s

WILL YOU HAVE TO MAKE CHANGES TO YOUR DIET?

Eat­ing right is one of the keys to man­ag­ing ges­ta­tional di­a­betes. Kate ad­vises:

Eat small, reg­u­lar meals con­tain­ing healthy foods through­out the day to keep your blood sugar sta­ble.

Fo­cus on foods that are rich in vi­ta­mins and min­er­als, such as fruit, veg­eta­bles, whole­grains and dairy.

Choose fi­bre-rich foods such as brown rice in­stead of white rice or sweet potato in­stead of white pasta.

Pro­teins and fats help slow the rate at which car­bo­hy­drates are di­gested and cause a slower re­lease of sugar into the blood­stream. Eat low fat pro­teins, such as skin­less chicken, lean cuts of red meat, fish, eggs and low fat dairy. Eat healthy fats, such as av­o­cado, nuts (raw and un­salted), seeds and olive oil.

Avoid ob­vi­ous sources of sugar, such as honey, sweets, cakes, bis­cuits, choco­lates, fruit juice and fizzy drinks.

Check food la­bels and avoid pro­cessed foods with any of these sug­ars listed in the first four in­gre­di­ents: sugar, honey, mo­lasses, corn syrup, dex­trose, fruc­tose, glu­cose, corn sweet­ener.

Don’t eat junk food – these are high

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