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Gestational diabetes - caring for yourself and your baby

22 November 2016 Blog
Maternity Diabetes
Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) during your pregnancy can be a confusing time and can raise many questions such as what this might mean for your baby, your ideal blood sugar levels and how to change your diet.

Managing gestational diabetes

If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, there are three things you can do to help manage your condition to keep you and your baby healthy:

  • monitor blood glucose levels at home
  • adopt a healthy eating plan
  • be physically active.

Monitoring your blood glucose levels

After you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you will be asked to monitor your blood glucose levels.

Your blood glucose levels should be:

  • fasting < 5.1mmol/L
  • one hour post meal < 10mmol/L
  • two hour post meal < 8.5mmol/L

What can I eat?

Diet is an important aspect of controlling your blood sugar and eating small meals often is the key.

To help maintain a healthy weight and control your blood sugar levels, include the following in your diet:

  • wholegrain carbohydrates in every meal
  • two to three serves of calcium and iron each day
  • two small serves of lean protein each day
  • foods rich in folic acid such as leafy green vegetables and dried beans
  • foods high in fibre such as fruit, vegetables, legumes and cereals.

Avoid food and drink that contain high amounts of sugar, including soft drinks, lollies, chocolate, bakery goods and orange juice, and high saturated fat such as red meat, dairy products and fats and oils.

What does this mean for my baby?

If you experience gestational diabetes, there may be additional tests and care your baby needs after birth.

This includes:

  • testing you baby’s blood glucose two to four hours after birth and be examined for signs of low blood sugar levels
  • feeding your baby as soon as possible after birth, at least within the first 30 minutes, then feeding at three hourly intervals is recommended
  • expressing milk while pregnant to have a collection of colostrum stored for when baby is born is a good idea.

Checking your own blood sugar levels after birth is also essential.

Follow up care

At your six week post-natal appointment with your obstetrician you will need to have a diabetes blood test to confirm if your blood glucose levels have returned to normal after pregnancy.

If you have any concerns or questions do not hesitate to speak to your obstetrician.

Further reading

Gestational diabetes overview - Diabetes Australia
Managing gestational diabetes - Diabetes Australia

St John of God Health Care Emma Cook
Emma Cook - Deputy Director of Nursing

Emma Cook is a Deputy Director of Nursing at St John of God Mt Lawley Hospital. She was formally the Family Birthing Unit Midwifery Manager and has assisted many parents through pregnancy, birth and caring for their new baby. Emma has completed her Master’s degree in healthcare services specialising in midwifery. 

St John of God Health Care Emma Cook
Emma Cook Deputy Director of Nursing