Diabetes that develops during pregnancy is called gestational diabetes. The pregnant woman who was not diabetic before the pregnancy develops a resistance to insulin. Gestational diabetes causes a pregnant woman to have higher than normal blood sugar levels. Gestastional diabetes can cause problems for both the pregnant woman and her baby.
The high blood glucose levels from with gestational diabetes can usually be controlled by following a gestational diabetes diet. If the diabetic diet fails to control the abnormally high blood sugar levels, insulin injections may be necessary. A gestational diabetes diet is similar to a regular diabetic diet. The difference between the regular diabetes diet and the gestational diabetes diet is that the gestational diabetic diet must take into account the additional nutritional and caloric demands of pregnancy. The gestational diabetes diet is likely to include more calories than the diabetic diet may include if the woman was not pregnant.
The obstetrician will often recommend that the gestational diabetic patient meets with a dietician to create a gestational diabetes diet. A dietician can structure a diet that specifies the number of servings of the food groups for each meal and snack. The dietician can educate the gestational diabetic patient on portion sizes and healthy food choices.
Sugary desserts are not the only foods that can elevate blood glucose levels. Fruit juice and large servings of starches can cause blood sugar levels to spike. The gestational diabetic patients monitor and record their blood sugar levels after meals. Some obstetricians instruct the patient with gestational diabetes to call their office and give them the recorded blood sugar levels for the week.
If the blood sugar levels are too high, the dietician can make recommendations on foods to eat and those to avoid. If the first blood sugar level, or fasting blood sugar level, is too low, the dietician may recommend a snack at night that would help prevent the blood sugar level from becoming too low.
If the gestational diabetic patient’s blood glucose levels remain high, the baby’s blood glucose levels are also higher than they should be. If the baby is exposed to high blood glucose levels, the baby’s pancreas produces extra insulin. The insulin in the body turns the glucose into energy. The energy that is not needed by the baby is turned into fat. Babies whose mothers’ had gestational diabetes tend to accumulate extra fat and be larger than normal.