Approximately 4% of women who are pregnant in the United States will be affected by gestational diabetes.
It is a misunderstood disease in that medical research has been unable to pinpoint why women suffer from it during pregnancy only to see it disappear after the baby is born. The stress and increased hormonal activity associated with pregnancy is thought to be a factor but women who are at risk will need to follow a diet for gestational diabetes.
Expectant mothers who were already diabetic at the time of conception will also need to follow this type of diet.
Any woman with gestational diabetes should consult with a registered dietician to help create the proper diet plan for her and her unborn baby. Control of blood sugar levels during pregnancy is of the utmost importance and modification of dietary intake is the best way to accomplish this.
During a pregnancy the goal of the diet for gestational diabetes is to ensure the proper amount of calories and nutrients for the mother and baby while also keeping blood glucose levels under control. The diet itself is individualized to each woman based on her height and weight.
Blood glucose levels will also need be tested and measured at least four times a day. This is done to ensure that the woman's blood sugars remain under control through out the day. The frequency of testing can be decreased once good glucose control is established but self monitoring will need to continue through out the pregnancy.
It is important that the meal plan meet the nutritional and weight gain needs of a normal pregnancy.
During the first trimester (See our pregnancy trimester guide) of a normal pregnancy the woman should gain from 2 to 4 pounds. Once the second and third trimester starts the weight gain should average a pound a week. Caloric intake will need to be increased by approximately 100 to 300 calories per day during the second trimester. At the same time protein will need to be increased to 10 grams per day. This can be accomplished by drinking 2 glasses of milk or eating 1 to 2 ounces of meat each day.
One of the biggest dangers of inadequate caloric intake is diabetic ketoacidosis. A pregnant woman should never restrict the amount of calories she eats unless so directed by her doctor. The calories she does eat should come from highly nutritious foods and should not be less then 1700 to 1800 per day.
Any pregnant woman who is diagnosed with this dangerous disease will need to follow a diet for gestational diabetes to ensure the health and well being of her unborn baby.