Exercise & Nutrition, Fourth Trimester, Pregnancy
If you’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you’re not alone. Up to 10% of women in the United States are diagnosed with this condition each year. So what does it mean for you and your baby, and what can you do about it? First, let’s learn about what causes it.
Somewhere between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy, changes in hormone levels can trigger something called insulin resistance — one of the main drivers of gestational diabetes. That’s why your provider will want you to take a screening test for gestational diabetes during this time. But what exactly is insulin and why is it important?
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. Its primary function is to move glucose into your cells after you eat. When cells become less responsive to insulin, glucose builds up in the bloodstream. The pancreas then responds by making even more insulin in an effort to shuttle glucose into the cells. The result? Elevated glucose and insulin levels, BOTH of which increase the risk of complications for you and your baby — from increased birth weight to a higher risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes later in life. That’s the scary news. But the good news is there are some simple things you can do to lower your risk and ensure a healthy delivery for both you and your baby.
Monitoring your carbohydrate intake is an important component in managing gestational diabetes. Foods that are high in carbs can cause a spike in glucose levels and may cause excess weight gain, and should be avoided. This is especially true for refined carbohydrate foods such as white bread, cereal, baked goods, or fried foods. However, carbs can also be found in sneakier places like sweetened oatmeal or granola bars, or drinks with added sugar like certain juices or sodas.
Instead, it’s best to choose lower insulin foods, which include a variety of healthy protein sources, healthy fats such as nuts and avocado, non-starchy vegetables, and low-glycemic fruits like berries. These provide ample amounts of vitamins and minerals to support your growing baby. Plus, they’ll give you the energy you need to get through your days.
Axia Women’s Health is proud to partner with Simplex Health to offer nutritional counseling, glucometer training, and health coaching for patients diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Simplex’s clinically proven protocols lower glucose and insulin levels naturally, with (of all things) food. In fact, since launching this program with our team, 86% of patients who adhered to the nutrition program safely managed their condition without medication. Through the program, you’ll work closely with a Simplex dietitian and your Axia Women’s Health provider to manage your glucose logs and adjust your nutrition as needed.
In addition to a healthy diet, regular exercise is also important for gestational diabetes patients. Safe activities such as walking or swimming for just 30 minutes a day can dramatically lower your blood glucose levels. A short walk after eating is also recommended to help manage blood sugars. As always, talk with your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen.
It’s important to note that women who develop gestational diabetes often become diabetic later in life. But this doesn’t have to happen. After pregnancy, it’s important to maintain healthy eating habits and an exercise routine to prevent type 2 diabetes. Through our gestational diabetes program, we offer post-partum nutrition support which can help with nutrient replenishment, weight loss, and hormonal restoration and rebalancing — ensuring healthy beginnings for both you and your baby.
Since high levels of blood glucose can create complications for the baby, you’ll be prescribed a glucometer which will help you keep tabs on your blood glucose levels. Plus, you’ll receive the training you need to understand and interpret your results. Through a free app, you’ll log glucose levels and food choices which your dietitian will review with you at each appointment – suggesting modifications (as needed) to help you achieve both glucose and nutrition goals.