Nutrition & Exercise

Gestational Diabetes

Did you know up to 10 percent of all pregnant women develop gestational diabetes? It is one of the most common health problems during pregnancy, happening around the 24th week. This is a temporary condition during pregnancy, but could put you more at risk for diabetes after delivery. 

Diabetes is when you have abnormally high levels of sugar, also known as glucose, in your blood. When you eat, your body breaks down most of your food into glucose before it enters your bloodstream. With the help of a hormone known as insulin, your cells use the glucose to fuel your body. 

During pregnancy, your body produces high levels of other hormones that cause the insulin to not work as well. That raises your blood sugar, and high blood sugar levels can affect your baby’s development. Most women will not experience symptoms of gestational diabetes. Testing for it should be part of your regular prenatal checkups. 

If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you need to 

  • Follow your doctor’s recommendations for monitoring your sugar levels. 

  • Focus on eating a healthy diet that consists of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. You need foods that are high in nutrition and fiber and not in bad fats and calories. Reduce the amount of sweets you eat. 

  • Be active. Regular physical activity and safe exercising naturally lower your blood sugar. 

  • Continue with regular checkups. Your doctor could recommend insulin injections to control your blood sugar or could prescribe an oral blood sugar medication.

Source: Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County Pregnancy Guide, 2018


Now that you are expecting, you may have questions about what to eat. There are several key vitamins and minerals you need.

Folic Acid

It is a B vitamin that helps prevent major birth defects. Dietary guidelines recommend a pregnant mom gets at least 600 micrograms of folic acid a day. You can get that amount from a good prenatal vitamin. It is difficult to get that much from food alone. 


The extra iron you need during pregnancy helps make more blood to supply needed oxygen to your baby. The recommended dose of iron for pregnant women is 27 mg. That amount also can be found in a good prenatal vitamin. Iron-rich foods to eat are red meat, poultry, fish, dried beans and peas. 


It helps build your baby’s bones and teeth. Pregnant women need about 1,000 mg of calcium daily, while pregnant teens need about 1,300 mg. If you take a prenatal vitamin, you likely will get at least 150 mg. Milk and yogurt usually are the best sources of calcium. 

Vitamin D

Along with calcium, it helps build baby’s bones and teeth. vitamin d also is good for healthy skin and eyesight. Good sources for vitamin D are milk and fish such as salmon.

Want to learn more about what to eat and what not to eat during pregnancy?
Visit American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists


Being pregnant doesn't mean you stop exercising. You might have to make some changes, though. It is important you talk to your obstetrician about exercising and exercise routines. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend pregnant women do moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 150 minutes every week. That’s less than 25 minutes per day. Moderate intensity means you are moving enough to raise your heart rate and start sweating a little. 

If you were very active before your pregnancy, talk to your doctor about doing the same workouts. If you haven’t exercised before, start gradually with as little as five minutes per day of activity.

Pregnant women sitting and eating a bowl of fruit.