4 ways to be supportive when your loved one has gestational diabetes

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The arrival of a new baby is an exciting and a busy time. Amid new clothes, soft blankets, complicated car seats, and all of the latest toys and gadgets, the anticipation of welcoming a new addition to the family is worth celebrating. As the prospect of being a grandparent becomes our focus, it’s important to remember the health of mom and her unborn baby needs an equal amount of attention, especially when it comes to prenatal care.

Related link: Gestational diabetes: What you don’t know can hurt you

Between the 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy, statistics show that 1 in 10 pregnancies will show elevated blood sugar levels, which may indicate gestational diabetes mellitus. “During pregnancy, pregnancy hormones can reduce or block the effectiveness of mom’s insulin,” says Christina Sherry, Ph.D, RD, a nutrition scientist with Abbott. Along with other risk factors like excess weight, having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or having a family history of Type 2 diabetes, this insulin resistance can progress to the point of gestational diabetes.

But if your loved one currently faces gestational diabetes, what can family members and friends do to show support? The first thing is to take the diagnosis seriously. Gestational diabetes will likely correct itself upon delivery. But if left untreated, it can create permanent damage. “Women with gestational diabetes have a 60 percent chance of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life,” says certified diabetes educator, Karmeen Kulkarni, MS, RD, CDE, BC-ADM, director of scientific affairs for Abbott’s diabetes business.

Here are four other ways parents can show support to an expectant mother. The good news is, your health will benefit, too.

1.Learn the details of the treatment plan.

The most effective way to help is to understand what kind of help your loved one needs. For example, how often does she need to monitor blood sugar levels? Some mothers may need extra rest throughout the day. If there are other children in the home, you may want to offer help.

2. Exercise with her.

Instead of merely asking if she exercised today, why not join her? Experts at Abbott say a 10-minute walk around the neighborhood after every meal can make a huge impact.

3. Diet.

You can show support by altering your diet to better match the dietary guidelines of your loved one. Instead of indulging in cake or sugary sodas at family gatherings, offer plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole-grain bread, and other fiber-rich foods.

4. Offer emotional support.

There are many ways to prevent the onset of gestational diabetes. But, even with the best of intentions, factors like family history and ethnic background create a propensity to developing GD. Focus on the positive side of becoming a mother and emphasize that GD can be controlled. “By maintaining healthy blood sugar levels throughout pregnancy, women can still have a happy and healthy pregnancy, even with gestational diabetes,” says Sherry. And you can look forward to happy and healthy addition to your growing family.

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