Mama life is rewarding but definitely not easy. Finding time for self-care may seem like a feat, particularly when juggling co-occurring health conditions or concerns, like gestational diabetes.
Does self-care feel like the last thing you can prioritize right now? We get it, but actually, you’d be surprised how much you need self-care now more than ever. You don’t have to sacrifice your own comfort to take care of your (growing) family. So, take a deep breath, and keep reading to find support with this self-care guide for moms with gestational diabetes.
Key Priorities for Self Care Routines
For expecting mothers who are managing gestational diabetes, monitoring your blood sugar is a crucial part of your routine and one your doctor will help you plan out. You’ll want to fully understand fluctuating blood sugar levels throughout the day, for example, watching for symptoms of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia.
Some symptoms of hyperglycemia, or overly elevated blood sugar levels, include frequent urination, fatigue, weakness, headache, confusion, blurred vision, dry mouth, increased thirst, and, in some extreme cases, nausea or vomiting. Since these symptoms are not exclusive to hyperglycemia, you need to actually check your blood sugar levels in addition to monitoring symptoms.
It’s similar to hypoglycemia, where blood sugar levels are too low, which has symptoms ranging from unnatural paleness and irritability to heart palpitations and shakiness. You can attempt to fix blood sugar levels by consuming fast-acting carbohydrates to replenish your body’s glucose or drinking fluids with electrolyte replacement, but the best treatment is prevention, whenever possible.
The more aware you are of your blood sugar levels, the better you can take care of yourself and your baby at any stage.
It’s All About the Basics
For any mother, but especially those like you with a condition that affects their health, it’s all about the basics. Your self-care has to include conscious efforts to eat right and exercise well, which will benefit not just you but also your baby and the whole family. It goes without saying that you’ll want to take any gestational diabetes medication as prescribed as well as follow your doctor’s advice with frequent follow-up visits and screenings. Other basics include getting enough sleep and aiming for some physical activity every day, whether it’s a short walk around the block or continuing your regular workout routine with the necessary adjustments for pregnancy, depending on your trimester. Ask your doctor about what types of exercise are suitable for you.
In general, mothers with gestational diabetes should follow a healthy diet with lean proteins like eggs and fish, non-starchy vegetables like cucumbers and salad greens, healthy fats like avocados and nuts, and complex carbohydrates like beans and berries. Avoid sweet drinks, since these sugary beverages are one of the fastest ways to raise your blood sugar, and up your water intake instead. You may also have a diet plan with your doctor with more specific do’s and don’ts tailored to your individual needs.
Prioritize Your Own Comfort, Too
Intentionally prioritizing your own comfort is a powerful way to practice self-care and to increase the enjoyment of your day and life. This can be as simple as taking a break or giving yourself permission to go to the gym without feeling guilty. You can strive to create a work-life balance, whether you have a busy career out of the home or you’re a busy mother who stays at home or both.
A specific area to consider comfort is with your home. Keeping a clean and organized home is an important component of maintaining a happy family life, but housework for moms with gestational diabetes may feel especially daunting. If you feel hopeless when it comes to making your living space clean, you may want to focus instead on making it feel homey. From bringing nature in with houseplants to boosting the coziness with throw pillows, a few simple touches can go a long way towards comfort for you and the whole family.
Be Confident in Your Self-Care Routine
As you work on self-care, the most important thing to remember is that you’re doing this for yourself and your family. Practicing self-care isn’t selfish; instead, an effective self-care routine actually means you can better deal with the stress, responsibility, worry, and activity of motherhood. There are a variety of self-care strategies out there, and some will simply not work for you, while others can be literally life-changing. So don’t feel bad if you end up modifying some suggestions you implement into your life for self-care; your routine to take care of yourself will likely be in constant flux, and that’s okay.
When you prioritize your own comfort in addition to fulfilling your responsibilities as a mother and staying confident in your wishes for more “you time,” you’ll empower yourself to be the best mom you can be. You can’t cure your own gestational diabetes, but you can effectively manage your condition while helping yourself, and, by extension, your family, be happier and healthier when you intentionally take care of yourself.
Tess DiNapoli is an artist, freelance writer, and content strategist. She has a passion for yoga and often writes about health and wellness, but also enjoys covering the fashion industry and world of fitness.