What should I do if I have gestational diabetes while I wait to see the diabetes team?
There are four vital things you could do now to help keep your blood sugar in a safe range:
- Stop drinking regular soda, juice, smoothies, sweet coffee and tea, sports drinks and other sweetened beverages that have more than 30 calories. Drink water and fat-free milk (8 ounces per serving).
- Eat 3 meals and 2-3 healthy snacks a day, including ½ sandwich plus 8oz milk for your bedtime snack. Although you may be tempted to, do not stop eating healthy, carbohydrate rich food.
Eat 1 cup or more of non-starchy vegetables as part of each lunch and dinner meal (examples of non-starchy vegetables include lettuce, tomato, cucumber, broccoli, eggplant, mushrooms, carrots, green beans and many others. Peas, corn and potatoes are considered starchy.
If OK with your doctor, walk for 5-10 minutes within the 1 hour after eating your meals.
What are the target blood sugar goals?
- Breakfast: eat 1-2 slices of whole grain bread, plus eggs, and lean meats
- Lunch and Dinner: eat a palm size portion of whole grain bread, brown rice, noodles, potatoes or beans in each meal, plus lean protein (such as meat, chicken, fish) and vegetables.
The fasting blood sugar (when you first wake up) should be less than 90-95 mg/dl; one hour after the start of meals should be less than 140 mg/dl, and 2 hours after the start of meals should be less than 120 mg/dl. Most diabetes programs will you have check your blood sugar at fasting (upon awakening), and one or two hours after the start of your meals.
What are the lower limits for my sugars?
As a general guide a fasting sugar below 63 mg/dl, a one hour after the start of the meal less than 81 mg/dl and a two hour after the start of the meal less than 72 mg/dl would be considered low and if on therapy would prompt a reduction in the medication dose. If you are not on treatment and get low numbers like these then no intervention is required, these values are likely within the normal range although at the lower end.
Will my baby get diabetes?
The baby will not be born with diabetes. Because the baby will have inherited the mother's genes in the longer term when the child grows up, will have an increased risk for diabetes. Thus both the mother and child should eat sensibly, maintain a healthy weight and keep active. Breastfeeding your baby will decrease your baby's risk of developing diabetes.
Does insulin harm the baby?
Insulin does not cross the placenta and thus will not harm the baby. The high blood sugar if left untreated crosses the placenta and can harm the baby.
What are my chances of getting diabetes in the long term?
Because your pancreas was not able to make enough insulin to handle the pregnancy we know it is not perfect. In the long term especially if you gain weight and are inactive, the risk for diabetes at ten years after the baby was born is as high as 50%.
Diabetes can cause complications to eyes and kidneys, will I get them?
It usually takes long-standing diabetes to get diabetic complications so we would not expect a mother with gestational diabetes to get these problems during the pregnancy.
If I get a low blood sugar, does this harm the baby?
Low blood sugars do not seem to harm the baby. Low sugars in treated gestational diabetes are rare as the mother is so resistant to insulin. Animal studies suggest the hypoglycemia( low blood sugar) has to be very severe and very prolonged before any harm could come to the baby.