If you’re pregnant and have diabetes, including some foods and limiting others can help control your blood sugar levels.
Pregnancy is an exciting and demanding phase for every woman as the body goes through many changes during this period. It is advisable to prepare your body for this change. Preconception health focuses on what you can do before and between pregnancies to increase your chances of having a healthy baby, and it becomes more important if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
“It is important to see your doctor and a certified nutritionist if you are planning to become pregnant and you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. They can help you manage your blood sugar levels and develop a diet plan with the right nutrients … and fits your lifestyle. By planning your meals and eating at the same time each day, you can prevent too high or too low blood sugar,” says Dr. Preety Aggarwal, medical director for gynecology and obstetrics at Motherhood Hospital, Gurugram.
However, keep in mind that “eating for two” doesn’t mean eating twice as much. Dr. Preety
claims, “When you’re pregnant, your daily calorie needs only increase by about 300. Instead of simply eating more, focus on getting more nutritious foods.”
The expert also explains why it is important to regulate the blood sugar level of pregnant women and how to do it.
Why should pregnant women control their blood sugar levels?
Dr Preety says:
High glucose levels when planning a pregnancy and early in pregnancy increase the risk of miscarriage and birth defects. High blood glucose levels during the second half of pregnancy and just before delivery can cause the baby to grow larger and heavier than normal, increasing the chances of problems during vaginal delivery and therefore a caesarean section may be necessary.
Diabetic patients are more likely to have pregnancy-induced hypertension and an excessive amount of amniotic fluid in the second part of pregnancy. The risk of stillbirth may also increase in late pregnancy when blood glucose levels are high.
A holistic approach can be taken to maintain optimal blood sugar levels. This includes a nutritious diet, controlling portion size, exercise, and making sure you take your supplements and medications on time.
Nutrition tips for pregnant women with type 1 or 2 diabetes
If you’re pregnant and have diabetes, including some foods and limiting others can help control your blood sugar levels. Dr. Preety tells you what to eat and what to skip.
What to eat?
Make sure you’re getting the right balance of nutrients by including;
- Variety of vegetables
- Whole grain
- Fresh seasonal fruit
- Low-fat dairy
- Lean meat and fish
- Healthy fats
However, you also need a strategy to control blood sugar throughout the day by sticking to the portion size of your meals and small frequent meals.
Following a regular schedule of three meals and three snacks is a solid strategy. Be sure to get at least one serving of protein and one serving of carbohydrates and plenty of vegetables at each meal. Plus, make sure you’re getting the nutrients every pregnant woman needs, such as: folic acid, iron, vitamin D, and calcium.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco in any form as it increases the chances of miscarriage and fetal alcohol syndrome
- Avoid semi-cooked meat or raw or semi-cooked vegetables
- Do not use unpasteurized dairy products, juices and soft cheeses.
- Do not drink more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day
- Reduce the intake of sweets and desserts, as this causes a spike in blood sugar
- It is better to avoid artificial sweeteners during pregnancy
Measures to regulate blood sugar levels during pregnancy
To control blood glucose during pregnancy, people with type 2 diabetes who are controlled with diet and/or oral medications usually need insulin. While a small percentage of people with type 2 diabetes can manage their condition during pregnancy while taking oral diabetes medications, the majority must switch to insulin therapy during this time.
As the body becomes increasingly resistant to insulin during pregnancy, most people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes will need more insulin during pregnancy, especially during the last third of pregnancy, ie around 26 to 40 weeks.
Regular contact with medical professionals is critical to controlling blood glucose levels and monitoring the health of both mother and baby. The healthcare provider may want to regularly evaluate the patient’s blood glucose levels and insulin doses.
Plus, exercise is a great way to control blood sugar and weight. Most people who exercised before pregnancy are able to do so again during pregnancy, but at a slightly slower pace. It is recommended to perform moderately intensive activities such as brisk walking. Those who have never exercised before can do so during pregnancy after consulting their doctor. As the pregnancy progresses or if difficulties arise, it may be necessary to adjust the exercise intensity, type and duration.
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