Holistic Treatment for Gestational Diabetes
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Gestational diabetes is a temporary form of diabetes (high blood sugar) that can develop during pregnancy as a result of hormones. Ordinarily, the insulin that your pancreas produces allows your body to convert blood sugar to energy. But pregnancy hormones can interfere with this process, making your body resistant to insulin and causing your blood sugar levels to rise. Usually, blood sugar levels return to normal after the baby is delivered.
About 4% of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes, usually mid-pregnancy, between the 24th and 28th week. It’s important to be tested for diabetes around this stage in your pregnancy, or even earlier if you’re in a high-risk group. You’re more likely to develop gestational diabetes if you’re over 25 years old, have a family history of diabetes, have high blood pressure, or are overweight.
How Gestational Diabetes Affects You & Your Baby
If you have gestational diabetes, you may have only mild symptoms—or no symptoms at all. You may experience fatigue, blurred vision, excessive thirst and hunger, frequent infections, nausea, or weight loss. Gestational diabetes can also increase the risk of high blood pressure. In the long term, women who develop gestational diabetes are likely to have it again in later pregnancies, and to develop diabetes later in life (often 5 to 10 years after the pregnancy).
For your baby, one possible effect of gestational diabetes is higher birth weight, which can lead to a more difficult birth for both of you and increase the risk of a C-section. Your baby may have low blood sugar for the first few days after being born and later may have a higher risk of obesity or Type 2 diabetes. If gestational diabetes is untreated, there is also a slightly higher risk of stillbirth or infant death.
So gestational diabetes does pose risks, but they can be controlled. If you are diagnosed with this condition, it’s important to follow a holistic treatment plan to help keep you and your baby healthy.
At Whole Family Health, we recommend an integrated approach that combines the benefits of traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine. In our clinic, we treat gestational diabetes with a combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and specialized massage.
Acupuncture can not only lower blood sugar but also control excessive hunger and thirst, reduce the frequency of urination, improve circulation, and restore proper flow of energy in the body.
Chinese herbs help to maintain blood sugar levels, as well as treating symptoms like blurry vision and peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage).
Specialized massage also improves blood and energy flow and helps to relieve stress.
Both Eastern and Western treatments for gestational diabetes focus on keeping your blood sugar levels in check through proper diet and exercise. A healthy eating plan includes:
• Regular small to medium-size meals and snacks throughout the day
• Controlled amounts of protein and fat
• Fruits, vegetables, and grains (complex carbohydrates)
• Consistency in your diet
Walking and light exercise, while always beneficial in pregnancy, are even more important if you have gestational diabetes.
In some cases, treatment for gestational diabetes may also include insulin and/or daily glucose testing prescribed by your doctor.