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Diabetes during Pregnancy
Updated on 3 November 2023
Increased blood sugar levels in pregnancy, also known as gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), has become a prevalent phenomenon in India. It is a major public health concern as about 4 million women are affected by GDM in India at any given time. GDM is seen in pregnant women because of insulin resistance due to hormonal activity. This hormone is made by the placenta that stops blood from utilising insulin as it would otherwise. This causes blood sugar to pile up rather than get absorbed by your body's cells. Usually begins about 20 to 24 weeks.
Here are some of the causes of high blood sugar levels in pregnancy:
Overweight or obese
History of gestational diabetes during previous pregnancies
Family history of diabetes
According to the American Diabetic Association, the following target should be maintained for normal blood sugar levels for a pregnant woman without diabetes:
Before a meal: 90 mg/dl or less. One hour post a meal: 130–140 mg/dl or less. Two hours post a meal: 120 mg/dl or less.
To maintain optimal blood sugar levels, the expecting mother should record the readings of blood sugar by a simple home test. This involves a simple finger prick before and after meals. Continuous glucose monitoring or a 2-hour test may be suggested based on one's requirements.
The blood sugar level in the screening test is high if it is above 130 to 140 mg/dL. For example, a 160 Sugar Level During Pregnancy; will be considered high. If the blood sugar levels are very high (≥200 mg/dL), there is a very strong chance that gestational diabetes is present.
The following can be the effects of high blood sugar levels in pregnancy:
There is an increased risk of injury to the mother or baby during labour, and the possibility of birth by cesarean is increased.
Large babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes are at a bigger risk of developing diabetes and obesity during their lifetime.
There is an increases risk of low blood sugar in the newborn. They may also have low levels of magnesium and calcium in their blood.
Managing blood sugar during pregnancy is crucial, especially if you have gestational diabetes or are at risk for developing it. Here are some general tips that may help lower blood sugar levels during pregnancy:
Focus on a balanced and nutritious diet that includes a variety of whole foods. Aim to consume plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Limit your intake of sugary and processed foods.
Carbohydrates can significantly impact blood sugar levels. Try to choose complex carbohydrates with a lower glycemic index, as they cause a slower rise in blood sugar. Examples include whole grains, legumes, and non-starchy vegetables.
Eating regular meals and snacks throughout the day can help stabilize blood sugar levels. Avoid skipping meals, as this can lead to fluctuations in blood sugar.
Be mindful of portion sizes to prevent large spikes in blood sugar levels.
Regular exercise, as approved by your healthcare provider, can help improve insulin sensitivity and regulate blood sugar levels. Engage in activities like walking, swimming, or prenatal yoga, depending on your fitness level and medical condition.
Drinking plenty of water can help with blood sugar management.
If you have gestational diabetes or diabetes that existed before pregnancy, your healthcare provider may recommend medication or insulin to help manage blood sugar levels. Always follow their instructions and monitor blood sugar as advised.
Regularly monitor your blood sugar levels as directed by your healthcare provider. Keeping track of your levels will help you and your medical team adjust your treatment plan if necessary.
High levels of stress can affect blood sugar levels. Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or prenatal yoga to help manage stress.
Prioritize getting adequate rest, as sleep deprivation can influence blood sugar levels.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends a history of gestational diabetes test for type 2 diabetes every one to three years after their preliminary post-pregnancy test for diabetes should be done. It is also suggested to work with the doctor to eat healthily, lose excess weight, and exercise regularly to maintain blood sugar levels in pregnancy and decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.
1. Moon, J. H., & Jang, H. C. (2022). Gestational Diabetes Mellitus: Diagnostic Approaches and Maternal-Offspring Complications. Diabetes & Metabolism Journal,
2. Quintanilla, B. S., & Mahdy, H. (2019, July 28). Gestational diabetes. National Library of Medicine; StatPearls Publishing.
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