Rita provides information and tips to help you keep an eye on your food choices if you have gestational diabetes.

Tackle gestational diabetes now

Pregnant Shopping Healthy

Let’s talk about gestational diabetes or diabetes during pregnancy.

There are about 200,000 new cases each year. Usually about half way through the pregnancy, blood testing is done to check on the blood sugar levels, to be sure that they are in the normal range.

This is often the time during pregnancy when the sugar levels will rise. If there is a diagnosis of gestational diabetes, it is important to make lifestyle changes to get those sugar levels back to the normal range. 

If you have gestational diabetes, your doctor may suggest that you use a glucose meter to check blood sugar levels during the day.

Blood sugar or glucose goals: fasting: 95 or less; 1 hour after eating: 140 or less and 2 hours after eating: 120 or less (or whatever level you and your doctor decide is best for you and the baby).

Keep an eye on your food choices if you have gestational diabetes:

  • Eat three meals and three small healthy snacks
  • Include healthy carbs in small amounts
  • Eat on a schedule

Other tips for controlling gestational diabetes:

  • Get in daily exercise or physical activity
  • Achieve a healthy weight gain, as set by your doctor
  • Get blood pressure checks when suggested  

So what happens if you do not address the gestational diabetes and those blood sugar levels run higher during pregnancy? You might get a larger baby – and that might require a c-section, and there are greater delivery risks. The baby may actually have a blood sugar that is too low, and that is not good.

About six weeks after the baby safely arrives, you should have a blood test to find out if your sugar is back to normal. If it is normal, you will want to be checked at least every 3 years, because your risk for diabetes is now higher. If it is slightly elevated, then it should be checked at least yearly. And then get back to a healthy weight with good food choices and exercise to avoid developing Type 2 diabetes down the road.


About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years, and currently works at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.