Gestational Diabetes

Having proper nutrition during pregnancy is not just about keeping the baby healthy but also keeping the mother healthy, and being aware of and preventing gestational diabetes is one important part of nutrition during pregnancy. There is a lot of misinformation spread around about gestational diabetes, so we are going to tackle some of the common beliefs that are false about gestational diabetes based on Lily Nichols’s research. First, blood sugars do not naturally rise in pregnant women, but many people believe that a higher blood pressure is normal during pregnancy. In fact, research shows that a pregnant woman’s blood pressure should be about 20% lower than her blood pressure when she is not pregnant. Even slightly elevated blood sugar levels can cause the baby to have high insulin levels or be abnormally large at birth. Gestational diabetes also usually occurs in women who already have type two diabetes or prediabetes. To explain, diabetes does not just show up out of nowhere, but women who have prediabetes may not find out until they are tested during pregnancy. One study found that after measuring their blood sugar in early pregnancy through the hemoglobin Alc test, women who had an early pregnancy Alc of 5.9% or higher were linked to a 3-fold higher rate of macrosomia and preeclampsia. Being aware of blood sugar levels is important even if one does not have any classic signs or risk factors of gestational diabetes because studies have shown that up to 50% of women with gestational diabetes did not appear to have these normal signs. Diet is also a factor in gestational diabetes. Inadequate protein consumption during the first trimester is a risk factor for gestational diabetes because a pregnant woman’s pancreas needs certain amino acids to pump out more insulin and keep her blood sugar low. Eating more of anything than what the body needs is also a risk factor because of weight gain, and excess hypoglycemic carbohydrates is especially linked to weight gain and then resulting in gestational diabetes. Excessive fruit intake, especially higher glycemic fruits may also increase the odds of gestational diabetes, so more fruit is not always good. Also when a woman has gestational diabetes it is actually not better for her to eat more carbohydrates, and research shows that eating a lower-glycemic diet reduces the chance that she will need insulin by half. There is research that defends that a lower-carbohydrate diet is actually safer and has more benefits in helping manage gestational diabetes. What a pregnant woman eats is important because the amount of carbohydrates, sugars, nutrients that naturally regulate blood sugars, sleep, and exercise all affects the mother’s health and the baby’s health.