If I have Gestational Diabetes… What should I do to make sure everything goes well?
Women with Gestational Diabetes are at risk of:
- Premature birth, which means that the birth occurs before the baby is mature enough to be born.
- Damage during birth, caused by the birth of a large baby through the birth canal, and infections, especially of the bladder and vagina.
These problems can be avoided. That’s why it’s so important for you to take good care of yourself and follow your doctor’s advice.
You must keep your blood glucose under control, for your welfare and that of your baby. Good control means trying to keep your blood glucose level between 80 mg/dl and 150 mg/dl for as long as you can. Your doctor can alter these numbers a bit according to your own needs. It’s important for you to keep your glucose levels under control, especially, in the morning, before eating and 1 or 2 hours after meals.
There are 5 ways to help keep your blood sugar levels (glycemia) under control.
- Check your blood glucose levels by yourself frequently (blood glucose monitoring).
- Follow a specific eating plan.
- Exercise regularly.
- Inject insulin (if necessary).
- Get emotional support.
Don’t skip any meals or snacks thinking that this will help reduce your blood glucose levels. In fact, this can be dangerous for your baby. When you don’t eat enough for you and your baby, fats break down forming ketones. Ketones are acids that enter the baby’s blood, just as glucose does, and can harm your baby’s health. Ketones can also appear when your blood sugar levels are too high for too long (Hyperglycemia). When your blood glucose levels are above 240 mg/dl, it can lead to a serious complication called Ketoacidosis. If your blood sugar level is above 240 mg/dl, get a ketones urine test, and if you have ketones in your urine, you’ll need to call your doctor immediately, or go to the emergency room.
Checking your blood sugar levels is an excellent idea. Your blood sugar will rise after meals, but it shouldn’t be higher than 160 mg/dl two hours after eating. You can do this analysis (blood glucose monitoring) at home when desired or deemed necessary.
The best moments to check your blood are, before breakfast, and 1 or 2 hours after meals. It isn’t normal for your blood sugar to rise above 160 mg/dl after meals. In the morning, the goal is for your blood sugar levels to be between 80 mg/dl and 100 mg/dl (before eating).
Other important tests to be done to make sure you’re optimally controlling your blood glucose levels (glycemia) are: Glycosylated Hemoglobin or Hemoglobin A1c, and a Fructosamine test.
Always remember that you’re the one responsible for controlling your blood sugar level. You and your doctor can decide whether it’s necessary, and when to perform these analyses. Your doctor will also tell you what exact values your blood glucose, hemoglobin A1c, and Fructosamine levels should be.
Other methods to check your glucose levels, which don’t require a monitor or glucometer are:
Visual Glucose Test: This test involves placing a small drop of blood from your finger in a reactive tape. There’s a small pad at the end of the test strip where you will put a drop of blood and after a while the pad will change color. Comparing the color of the pad with the color scale shown in the test strip case, will tell you the range of your glucose level, though it won’t give you an exact number.
Glucose urine test (Glycosuria): This test involves placing a urine sample in a container and dipping a special tape into it, pulling it out immediately. After a few minutes, the tape will change color and has to be compared with the color scale shown on the case. This result doesn’t show your current glucose levels, but how they were a few hours before. It will also give you the approximate range in which your glucose level was, and not the exact number.