How is gestational diabetes managed?

Gestational diabetes is managed by:

  • Checking your blood sugar levels
  • Following specific dietary guidelines given by your doctor, dietitian, or diabetes educator
  • Exercising
  • Keeping an eye on your weight gain
  • Taking oral medication or insulin, if necessary

Do I need to take insulin if I have gestational diabetes?

Based on your blood glucose monitoring results, your doctor will tell you if you need to take insulin injections during pregnancy. If insulin is prescribed for you, your doctor, nurse, or diabetes educator will teach you how to give yourself insulin injections.

As your pregnancy progresses, the placenta will make more pregnancy hormones, and larger doses of insulin may be needed to control your blood sugar. Your doctor will adjust your insulin dosage based on your blood glucose log.

When using insulin, a "low blood glucose reaction," or hypoglycemia, can occur if you:

  • Do not eat enough food
  • Skip a meal
  • Do not eat at the right time of day, or
  • Exercise more than usual.

Symptoms of hypoglycemia include:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling shaky
  • Headaches
  • Sudden hunger
  • Sweating
  • Weakness

Hypoglycemia is a serious problem that needs to be treated right away. If you think you are having a low blood sugar reaction:

  • Check your blood sugar if you can.
  • If your blood sugar is less than 60 mg/dl, eat a food that contains sugar, such as ½ cup of orange or apple juice; 1 cup of skim milk; 4-6 pieces of hard candy (not sugar-free); ½ cup regular soft drink; or 1 tbsp. of honey, brown sugar, or corn syrup.
  • Fifteen minutes after eating one of the foods listed above, check your blood sugar. If it is still less than 60 mg/dl, eat another one of the food choices above. If it is more than 45 minutes until your next meal, eat a bread and protein source to prevent another reaction.
  • Record all low blood sugar reactions in your log book, including the date, the time of day the reaction occurred, and how you treated it.

If insulin is needed during pregnancy, an insulin injection may be given when labor begins; sometimes, it may be given intravenously (through a vein) throughout labor.

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