Gestational Diabetes

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

Type 2 Diabetes Warning Signs

What is the treatment for gestational diabetes?

It is important to receive proper treatment for gestational diabetes because research studies have shown that the incidence of problems and complications is decreased when blood glucose levels are normalized. Treatment for gestational diabetes involves attention to maintaining a proper diet. Regular exercise can also contribute to tight glucose control. Nutritional modification is the mainstay of therapy, and many women will achieve adequate glucose control by following a nutritional plan.

Testing your blood glucose levels at home at specific times or after meals will be recommended to determine if your glucose levels are within acceptable limits. Testing at least four times per day is typical. You may also be asked to test your urine for ketones, substances that are produced when your body metabolizes fat. Ketones are elevated when the body is unable to use glucose for energy.

If diet and exercise are not sufficient to maintain tight control of your blood glucose levels, it may be necessary to instityte insulin therapy. Insulin is the only officially approved medication for treating gestational diabetes in the U.S.; however, oral agents are used by many cliniciant to control the blood sugar in selected patients. As the pregnancy progresses, insulin requirements may change, and insulin doses may need to be adjusted.

Is there a special diet for a woman with gestational diabetes?

While there is no one specific diet that is recommended for all women with gestational diabetes, following a meal plan can help keep your blood sugar levels under control and avoid complications.

  • A nutritionist may be helpful in designing a meal plan that takes into account individual schedules and preferences.
  • Eating a variety of foods is recommended, and it is better to eat smaller portions throughout the day (e.g. 3 small to moderate meals and 2-4 snacks) rather than just a few large meals.
  • Many women with gestational diabetes will be advised to eat fewer carbohydrates than in their normal diet and to eat complex carbohydrates that contain fiber. It’s important to limit consumption of foods containing large amounts of simple sugars.
  • High-fiber foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as whole-grain products, are not only nutritious but also effective in keeping blood sugar levels stable.
  • Skipping meals is not recommended because this leads to undesirable fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/29/2016

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