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I Was Just Diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, What Do I Do?!

"I was just diagnosed with gestational diabetes. What do I do?" Quick answer: Take a breath, give yourself a moment to collect yourself, and we'll get into it. For some moms, a diagnosis of gestational diabetes (GDM) is not a shock. Maybe they had GDM during a previous pregnancy, or they already had prediabetes before they were pregnant. For other women, it is a complete surprise. With that comes all sorts of worries. Will the baby be OK? Will I need to prick myself? What do you do now?

pregnant woman with gestational diabetes

Gestational Diabetes and Keeping Your Baby Healthy

First, it is important to understand that the risks to the baby can occur when the baby is exposed to high blood sugar levels. Well-managed GDM with blood sugars at goal range does not lead to the potential risks. Remember, you can keep the risk to your baby minimal with maintaining blood sugars at your goal.

There are two main methods of managing elevated blood sugars in GDM. Moms will either need one method: nutrition, or both methods: nutrition and medication. If nutrition alone does not do it adequately, it is a perfectly good idea to use medication to take the blood sugars the rest of the way to goal.

Nutrition for Gestational Diabetes

The general nutrition strategy with nutrition is to avoid eating extra carbohydrates, make most or all your carbohydrates high fiber choices, and eat adequate vegetables, protein, and fat to maintain satiety. If a reasonably appropriate eating pattern still leaves you with blood sugars above goal, the next step is medication, not eating less! We can only do as best as we can reasonably do with nutrition, and then we can relax knowing that there are medications to do the rest.

Fears With Gestational Diabetes

Needle phobia is fairly common amongst moms with GDM. You may be asked to check your blood sugar up to 4 times per day and some people need insulin injections. For someone who has never done this, it is common to be scared! It's OK to be scared, and also know that you'll be able to do it. It might not become your favorite activity, but you will be able to check your blood sugar and give yourself insulin if you need.

There are a few strategies to make the needles less scary. You can ask your partner or a family member to prick you with the lancet for you to check your blood sugar. This can help for those people who can't get themselves to prick themselves. Also, try different fingers and different places on your fingertip to find an area that you feel the prick the least. People tend to find that they have more painful spots and less painful spots.

If you need insulin, you can also ask your partner or a family member to help you. You can ask your medical provider if you can bring your insulin in to the office for a nurse to show you and your partner how to inject insulin. Watching a professional do it the first time can make doing it at home by yourself less scary.

What to do if You Were Just Diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes

If you were just diagnosed with gestational diabetes, remember that you have the tools to keep your baby healthy. Some people will be able to keep their blood sugars at their goal with nutrition. Other people will need both nutrition and medication. You can do it, and you will be OK!

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