Understanding Gestational Diabetes - Diet
Why is a special diet recommended?
A nutritionally balanced diet is always is always essential to maintaining a healthy mother and successful pregnancy. The foods you choose become the nutrient building blocks for the growth of the fetus. For a woman with gestational diabetes, proper diet alone often keeps blood sugar levels in the normal range and is generally the first step to follow before resorting to insulin injections. Careful attention should be paid to the total calories eaten daily, to avoid foods which increase blood sugar levels, and to emphasize the use of foods which help the body maintain a normal blood sugar. A registered dietitian is the best person to help you with meal planning to meet your individual needs. your physician can help you to fine a dietitian if this service is not a part of his or her office or clinic. Your local chapter of the American Dietetic Association of the American Diabetes Association can also help you to locate a registered dietitian.
How much weight should I gain?
Of all questions asked by pregnant women, this is the most common. The answer is particularly important for women with gestational diabetes. The weight that you gain is a rough indication of how much nutrition is available to the fetus for growth. An adequate weight gain may result in a small baby who lacks protective calorie reserves at birth. This baby may have more illness during the first year of life. An excessive weight gain during pregnancy, however, has an insulin-resistant effect, just like the hormones produced by the placenta, and will make your blood sugar level higher.
The optimal weight to gain depends on the weight that you are before becoming pregnant. Your pre-pregnancy weight is also a rough indication of how well-nourished you are before becoming pregnant. If you are a desirable weight for your body size before becoming pregnant, a weight gain of 24 to 27 pounds is recommended. If you are approximately 20 pounds or more above your desirable weight before pregnancy, a weight gain of 24 pounds is recommended. Many overweight women, however, have healthy babies and gain only 20 pounds. If you become pregnant when you are underweight, you need to gain more weight during the pregnancy to give your baby the extra nutrition he or she needs for the first year. you should gain 28 to 36 pounds, depending on how underweight you are before becoming pregnant. Your nutrition advisor or healthcare provider can recommend an appropriate weight to gain.
Total recommended weight gain is often not as helpful as a weekly rate of gain. Most women gain 3 to 5 pounds during the first trimesters, a good rate of weight gain is about three quarters of a pound to one pound per week. Gaining too much weight (2 or pounds per week) results in putting on too much body fat. This extra body fat produces an insulin-resistant effect which requires the body to produce more insulin, as in gestational diabetes, causes your blood sugar levels to rise above acceptable levels. If weight gain has been excessive, often limiting weight gain to approximately three-quarters of a pound a week (3 pounds per month) can return blood sugar levels to normal. Fetal growth and development depend on proper nourishment and you will be placed at risk by drastically reducing calories. However, you can limit weight gain by cutting back on excessive calories and by eating a nutritionally sound diet that meets your needs and the needs of your baby. Remember that dieting and severely cutting back on weight gain may increase the risk of delivering prematurely. If blood sugar levels continue to go up and are not gaining excessive weight or eating improperly, the safest therapy for the well being of the fetus is insulin.
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