Living with diabetes during pregnancy can be challenging, but you can still lead a healthy life. Take control of your diabetes by managing the key components of diet and lifestyle and lead a near normal life.
Living with diabetes during pregnancy can be challenging, but you can still lead a near normal life. Diet and lifestyle are key components in living healthily with diabetes. Taking good control of your diabetes and your glucose levels is your guide to leading a long and healthy life.
Diabetes check-ups are an extremely important part of diabetes care. These checks are a vital part of weekly, monthly and annual diabetes care. There are some types of diabetes checks that you can carry out at home such as blood glucose monitoring and others are offered by the NHS.
Healthy living - eating right
Foods to avoid
There are certain foods that all pregnant women need to avoid, whether or not they have diabetes:
- Liver and liver products
- Unpasteurised dairy products (e.g. soft or blue cheese)
- Pre-cooked cold meats
- Uncooked eggs (Watch out, these can be hiding in a mousse or sauce!)
In addition to avoiding potentially harmful foods, women with Type 1 diabetes have to choose carefully to maintain good control of blood glucose levels. Eating a healthy diet helps your baby to grow and develop too. The dietitian at your clinic will give you lots of advice on healthy food choices, and which foods you should avoid.
Include lots of:
- Starchy foods - starchy food such as bread and pasta should form the main part of your meals
- Slowly absorbed foods - particularly those containing soluble fibre like peas, beans, vegetables, fruit, lentils and oats. Soluble fibres slow down the rate at which you absorb the sugars in your food, making it easier to keep your levels steady
- High fibre foods - like bran cereals and wholemeal bread. They help to avoid constipation, which can be a problem for some pregnant women
- Protein rich foods - such as low fat dairy products, lean meat and fish are good building blocks for your baby's growth
- Fresh fruit and vegetables - containing vitamins to keep you and your baby healthy
Taking some gentle exercise
Obviously now is not the time to start a fitness campaign, but taking exercise is beneficial for many pregnant women, including those with diabetes.
Try something gentle
Discuss your exercise plans with your healthcare professional. If you are advised that you can take some gentle exercise:
- Don't do anything strenuous. Instead, try to introduce a little more activity - such as steady walking - into your day, every day
- Avoid extreme stretches. During pregnancy, the ligaments joining your muscles to your bones become more elastic and it is possible to overstretch
Be safe, before and after
Your blood glucose testing can help you to exercise safely:
- Always take a small snack before you start exercising
- Before you begin, make sure your blood glucose levels are not too low
- Have glucose tablets, a sugary drink or a snack to hand while you exercise, in case you feel hypo
Test again after you exercise, and ask yourself:
- How low are your levels?
- Do you need a snack?
- Should you have had a bigger snack before you started?
Many leisure centres run special aqua classes or yoga classes for pregnant women. If you join one let the instructor know that you are using insulin.