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Gestational Diabetes - A Concern for Pregnant Women

Hi, my name is Ellen Thomsen, I'm a registered dietician and certified Diabetes Educator at CHI Health. Today, I'm here to talk to you about gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes can be a scary diagnosis, however, it's something you can manage. Gestational diabetes is elevated blood sugar during pregnancy. The hormones produced by your placenta create something called insulin resistance. You'll be working closely with your doctor to make sure you and baby or both safe.

3 Key Ways to Manage Gestational Diabetes

Nutrition considerations, testing your blood sugar, and adding physical activity are the three ways to best manage gestational diabetes.


When we talk about food choices that impact gestational diabetes, we're focusing on carbohydrate-containing foods. It doesn't mean you have to give up your favorite things. It just means we're going to spread those foods out differently to make sure you and baby are giving plenty of the nutrients that you need.

Blood Sugar

Your doctor will likely prescribe you a glucose meter to start checking your blood sugar, usually this is four times a day. While this can be scary for a new mom, it's the best way to ensure we're keeping those blood sugars in target ranges.

Physical Activity

Moms who run a higher blood sugar might also want to be adding physical activity. If you weren't physically active previous to this pregnancy, or aren't currently physically active, work with your doctor to find an exercise routine that works best for you. Even adding a walk after dinner can help you to control those blood sugars throughout the day.

How Important is Managing Gestational Diabetes?

The thing we want is the health of you and your baby. Potential risks for baby of moms that have gestational diabetes are pre-term labor, a high birth weight, such as close to nine pounds or over nine pounds, or even a low blood sugar at birth. Again, treatment including nutrition, exercise and testing your blood sugars help to minimize these risks for your baby once your healthy baby is here. There are definitely things you're going to want to do to decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Get Into a Healthy Routine

First thing, find a good exercise routine, being a new mom, you're going to be tired and pretty busy. Find ways to incorporate your baby into exercise or find family or friends that can help watch your children, so you can make sure you're getting some activity. Finding a healthy eating routine after delivery of your baby is another key piece to preventing type 2 diabetes. Adding good healthy foods, like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, are all key things you're going to want to include in a healthy eating plan. Like I said, you're going to be busy with that new baby, so find ways to meal plan or ask for help if you need assistance with getting groceries or even cooking meals.

How to Prevent Diabetes After Delivery

One of the most important things you can do after delivery is to find a primary care provider who you follow up with regularly. Ask this provider to check to hemoglobin A1C at least once a year. An A1C is a two to three month led sugar average, and make sure that you're preventing pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. I know gestational diabetes can be scary, but we are here to help, we'll work directly with your provider to make sure you are comfortable with the plan and baby is kept safe.

Learn more about CHI Health's diabetes resources.

Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE, IFNCP™
Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE, IFNCP™

Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist and Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner. She is the diabetes education program coordinator at CHI Health and sees patients at the Millard Clinic. She works with patients to identify root causes to health conditions and make changes to improve overall health. Ellen’s passion is to help others develop lifestyle habits that allow them to feel their best.

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