Singapore has one of the highest rates of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) in the world, affecting one in five births.
The condition is characterised by abnormal or elevated glucose readings which occur during pregnancy and is usually discovered through an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) taken between Week 24 and Week 28 of the pregnancy.
Mothers with the condition have an increased risk of high blood pressure, pre-term labour and stillbirth. They are also at risk of developing diabetes after delivery. Furthermore, children born from GDM pregnancies are likelier to be obese as children and develop Type 2 Diabetes subsequently in life.
Therefore, early detection and proper management of the condition is imperative to keep it under control and minimise the risks to mother and child.
#1 – Ensuring a healthy diet
If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, a healthy diet is necessary. Instead of three main meals, have smaller but more frequent meals. As essential nutrients for pregnant mums are vital for the healthy growth and development of your baby, you can consult a nutritionist to customise a meal plan according to your health condition and needs.
Pregnant mums will likely need to monitor the amount of carbohydrates consumed per day, as over-consumption may cause a spike in blood sugar. Consuming more foods with a low glycemic load helps to keep blood sugar levels stable. If you do not take meat, there are vegetarian meal ideas as well. Also, do keep in mind the foods to avoid during pregnancy.
#2 – Keep a food log
As you will need to track your blood sugar levels daily, keeping a food log documents the types of food which correlate to blood sugar levels. You’ll be able to find out what type of food causes spikes in blood sugar and avoid consuming them.
#3 – Cut down on sweet drinks
Sweet drinks are a fast way to spike your sugar level, which is why you should cut them off until you’re cleared of gestational diabetes. Sweet drinks extend to sweetened tea, fruit juices and any drinks with added sugar. It is safest to stick to water, which helps pregnant mums to stay hydrated. On average, you need about 2.3 litres of fluid per day.
#4 – Exercise!
Exercising plays a part in regulating the body’s insulin output and in turn, blood sugar levels. There are many simple exercises that can be done in the comfort of your home, or simply sign up for prenatal exercise classes to keep active with fellow pregnant mums.
#5 – Find a support group
Gestational diabetes can be tricky. Finding a support group with other pregnant women suffering from the same condition can help – you can share meal plans, meet up for lunch and you’ll know that you are not the only one suffering from the condition. Most pregnant women have safe pregnancies and deliver healthy, term babies.
#6 – Ensure that your condition is monitored closely
Having gestational diabetes means that your baby may be at an increased risk of excessive birth weight, which may result in complicated labour or C-section. This happens when excess glucose in your bloodstream crosses the placenta and triggers your baby’s pancreas to create more insulin. This results in a largerbaby, and may pose potential pregnancy risks and complications during delivery.
Thus, it is important that you attend all scheduled gynaecological appointments to keep a close track on your baby’s predicted birth weight and make appropriate adjustments.
Gestational diabetes can be successfully managed with proper guidance from healthcare professionals and a supportive network.
Mummies who were diagnosed with withgestational diabetes, do share some tips on how you coped with the condition in the comments below!