Providing Critical Nutrition Support for Pregnant Mothers
Research has shown that access to healthy foods can improve health outcomes for women diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and their babies. That’s where Open Hand Atlanta and our team of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) – who are also Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (CDCES) – are stepping in to give back a sense of control to pregnant women diagnosed with GDM.
Thanks to a generous $198,586 grant awarded by the CareSource Foundation, Open Hand recently implemented a new Medically-Tailored Meals Intervention pilot program targeting pregnant mothers with gestational diabetes. Participants will receive tailored nutrition education and meals and snacks through their last trimester and one month post-partum, for a total of 16 weeks.
The Open Hand meals and various snack items provided are not only heart-healthy, but designed to assist with blood sugar management and overall stress reduction. In addition, participants will learn how to best combine the food items provided to optimize control of their blood pressure.
Each class will last two hours and cover key topics surrounding comprehensive management of GDM, the importance of proper nutrition, and physical activity. Open Hand RDNs/CDCEs will also utilize our telehealth platform to provide participants with central access to resources, community chat with other moms, and personalized support when needed. RDNs/CDCES will also hold a weekly virtual support group where participants can “stop by” to ask specific questions or engage with the other women enrolled in the program.
THE IMPORTANCE OF EARLY NUTRITION INTERVENTIONS
Many women struggle with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), or high blood sugar during pregnancy, with about 10% of all pregnancies in the US developing into GDM. Of those mothers with GDM, over half have a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. Furthermore, Georgia is 50th in the nation for overall maternal mortality and has one of the highest rates in the nation of women who have developed GDM.
GDM can be harmful to the overall health of both mom and her baby, with the baby at risk for higher than normal weight and larger head size, as well as increased risk for lower blood glucose, jaundice, and breathing problems after birth. Meanwhile, moms diagnosed with GDM are at risk for hypertension and pre-eclampsia.
We are incredibly grateful to the CareSource Foundation for helping us provide this invaluable nutrition-focused care so that women with GDM can take back control of their (and their baby’s) health. In providing this comprehensive level of support, we fully expect to see those who participate in the program experience improved health outcomes, long-term healthy eating behaviors – and ultimately help prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes.