Lifestyle Changes to Manage Gestational Diabetes
by Mary Calvagna, MS
With gestational diabetes, the first approach your doctor will take is management through lifestyle changes. Many women have been able to successfully control their glucose levels by eating a carefully planned diet and participating in an exercise program.
Eat a Healthful Diet
A nutritionally balanced diet alone can sometimes keep your glucose levels in the normal range. This is generally the first method of treatment that your doctor will try. To help plan your meals, your doctor may recommend that you work with a dietitian.
When you are pregnant, it is important to eat the proper foods to meet both your nutritional needs and your baby’s needs. But if you have gestational diabetes, you have one more focus—to keep your glucose level as normal as possible. In fact, controlling your glucose level is one of the most important responsibilities you have during your pregnancy. This will help keep you and your baby healthy.
During pregnancy, your need for calories and protein increases. And, most vitamins and minerals are also needed in greater amounts. The following tips are designed to help you keep your glucose level within a normal range:
Most women with gestational diabetes need 3 meals and a couple of snacks, including a bedtime snack, each day. Try not to go more than 5 hours without eating. Working with a registered dietitian is the best way to develop a meal plan that is right for you.
Get Regular Exercise
A daily exercise program is an important part of a healthy pregnancy. For women with gestational diabetes, it is especially important. Regular exercise increases the efficiency of your body’s own insulin and lowers your glucose levels. In addition, it can help you to maintain a healthy weight during your pregnancy. Before you begin an exercise program, it is important that you discuss it with your doctor.
When you get approval from your doctor, choose exercises that do not require your body to bear any extra weight. Good examples are:
Be careful to avoid contact sports or vigorous sports, or any exercises that increase your risk of falls or injury. It is also important to avoid becoming over-heated. If your body temperature rises too much, it can be dangerous for your baby. Avoid activities like Bikram or hot yoga. Also, drink plenty of fluids, even if you are not thirsty.
Exercising throughout the week is necessary to have an effect on your glucose level. Your doctor can help you to develop a safe exercise program for you and your growing baby.
Stop exercising if you experience:
When to Contact Your Doctor
Contact your doctor if you experience any of the following:
Diabetes & pregnancy. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/diabetes-pregnancy. Accessed September 12, 2017.
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed... . Updated June 29, 2017. Accessed September 12, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG
Last Updated: 9/17/2014
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