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Taking Insulin & Diet for Gestational Diabetes

Do I Need to Take Insulin for Gestational Diabetes?

Based on your blood sugar monitoring results, your health care provider will tell you if you need to take insulin in the form of injections during pregnancy. Insulin is a hormone that controls blood sugar. If insulin is prescribed for you, you may be taught how to perform the insulin injection procedure.

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 health care provider will adjust your insulin dosage based on your blood sugar 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 if you 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 your blood sugar is less than 60 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter), eat a sugar-containing food, such as 1/2 cup of orange or apple juice; 1 cup of skim milk; 4-6 pieces of hard candy (not sugar-free); 1/2 cup regular soft drink; or 1 tablespoon 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, time of day the reaction occurred and how you treated it.

How Will My Diet Change With Gestational Diabetes?

If you have gestational diabetes, follow these diet tips:

• Eat three small meals and two or three snacks at regular times every day. Do not skip meals or snacks. Carbohydrates should be 40%-45% of the total calories with breakfast and a bedtime snack containing 15-30 grams of carbohydrates.

• If you have morning sickness, eat 1-2 servings of crackers, cereal, or pretzels before getting out of bed. Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day and avoid fatty, fried, and greasy foods. If you take insulin and have morning sickness, make sure you know how to treat low blood sugar.

• Choose foods high in fiber such as whole-grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice, fruits, and vegetables. All pregnant women should eat 20-35 grams of fiber a day.

• Fats should be less than 40% of calories with less than 10% consumed being from saturated fats.

• Drink at least 8 cups (or 64 ounces) of liquids per day.

• Make sure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals in your daily diet. Ask your health care provider about taking a prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement to meet the nutritional needs of your pregnancy.

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