taking a blood glucose test to manage diabetes

By Associate Professor TAN Thiam Chye Head & Senior Consultant, Dr TAN Shu Qi Associate Consultant, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, KK Women's and Children's Hospital

Don't over-worry about your diagnosis of gestational diabetes. Simply making a few changes to your lifestyle will pave the way for a healthy pregnancy and baby. Having these three habits will help you manage gestational diabetes mellitus, or GDM:

1. Monitor Your Pregnancy Diet

monitoring pregnancy diet for diabetes

The right nutrition will help to control your blood sugar levels. Have a healthy pregnancy diet by:

  • Moderating your food intake. Spread your meals evenly throughout the day so you don't eat too much at one go and have your blood sugar levels spike up. Having the same amount of foods each day will keep your blood sugar stable

Related: Pregnancy and Diet

2. Exercise Regularly

exercising regularly to manage diabetes

Physical activity will improve your body's ability to use the glucose in the blood, thus helping to manage your GDM. However, as you're pregnant, you will also need to be careful when exercising. Take note of these pointers:

  • Always measure your glucose levels before exercising. An mmol/L of 5.6 to 13.9 means you're safe to engage in exercise. If you're below 5.6 mmol/L, take along a snack such as an apple or a slice of whole-grain bread to prevent hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar

  • Always keep yourself well hydrated before, during and after exercise

  • Brisk walking is a good form of exercise. Do invest in a good pair of walking shoes

  • Stop exercising if you feel dizzy, nausea, any chest tightness or discomfort and severe shortness of breath

Related: Guide to Exercising While Pregnant

3. Check Your Blood Glucose Levels Regularly

checking blood glucose levels regularly

Self-monitoring of your blood sugar levels is crucial to keeping GDM in check, especially as you're unlikely to visit the clinic every day to test your blood sugar levels. Uncontrolled GDM poses health risks to your pregnancy and baby. Getting a regular reading of your blood glucose levels can also help you tweak your lifestyle to a healthier and safer one for your pregnancy. The frequency at which you monitor your blood glucose from home is dependent on your treatment goals, so discuss with your doctor about your blood glucose targets.

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Sources:

The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth 2008, World Scientific

Healthy Start for your Pregnancy 2012, Health Promotion Board Singapore