After being recently diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, I spent quite a few days researching what it actually means and how I can have a healthy pregnancy with proper diet, exercise and in some cases, medication. I hope you land on this page before you read some of the more scary articles that are out there.
Let’s start with understanding what Gestational Diabetes is all about. ( I will refer it to as GD from hereon)
GD is high blood sugar that develops during pregnancy and disappears after birth. Although it can occur at any stage of your pregnancy, it’s more common in the second half. It occurs when your body is unable to produce enough insulin ( a hormone that controls blood sugar) in pregnancy. Although GD can cause problems for you and your baby, early detection and medical help will reduce those risks.
Here are some factors that increase your risk of getting GD:
- Your BMI is over 30
- The previous baby was over 4.5kg or 10lbs
- You had GD in your previous pregnancy
- One or both of your parents or siblings have diabetes
- Your family origins are South Asian, Chinese, African-Caribbean or Middle Eastern
If your family doctor is aware of your medical history and that of your family, or if you meet more than one of the factors above, you will probably be offered a screening test sooner rather than later.
This was the worst part for me. I absolutely hate needles! For this screening, I had to fast from midnight till my first blood test was done in the morning. After this, I was given a drink to consume. That drink… was not the best tasting drink you will have. With some gagging and tears in my eyes, I gulped mine down. Anything for this baby! I was then asked to wait for 2 hours before they took another blood test. You are free to eat after both blood tests have been completed. Now begins the waiting game for the results.**
** Results usually take a week or so to come in. And depending on your surgery, a doctor, nurse or midwife should give you a call to give you the results. In my case, I heard nothing. It was only when I asked my midwife about the test that we found out the results. 3 weeks later! So make sure you phone your doctor or GP to find out your results as soon as possible. I didn’t want to bother anyone and thought it was something my midwife would discuss with me at the next appointment.
So, you have GD. What’s next?
Good thing is, now that we know you have GD, we can start working to keep your sugar under control. You will be referred to GD specialists at your chosen hospital and a team will be working with you to ensure everything goes well.
To start with, you will be given a blood sugar testing kit. This will help you and the team monitor your levels. At the first meeting, the nurse will advise you on what you can or cannot eat. You will most likely leave the hospital with a heavy head like I did. In most cases, changes to diet and exercise bring things under control. However, if that is not the case with you, the specialist will offer you Metformin (oral antidiabetic drug). If diet, exercise, and medications are not making the difference they should, you will be put on insulin. All this is done to avoid problems with your pregnancy. Such as, a large baby ( Macrosomia), too much amniotic fluid ( which can cause premature labour or problems at delivery), premature birth, pre-eclampsia ( high blood pressure), jaundice and in worst cases, stillbirth. Don’t panic! I cried the first time I read this. Trust me, this is very very rare and often happens in cases where GD was not diagnosed. That is not the case with you, so stop panicking.
What can I do to help control my sugar?
Diet and exercise are key. You don’t have to run a marathon every day. I found a walk after meals helped me bring my sugar levels down. Try a few exercises to see what works for you. Even if it’s just walking up and down the stairs! Anything that will raise your heart rate and not stress the baby.
When it comes to diet, things get very confusing. At least they did for me. I found several websites telling me to avoid carb and others telling me I should eat lots of fruit. This was totally wrong. GD diet is all about eating a balanced meal and the right portions. If you get hungry between meals, have a small snack. Remember, even fruits have portion sizes and no snack should be bigger than the palm of your hand! In terms of vegetables, keep them colourful and eat as much as you like. That’s what I have been told.This is the chart I was given by my specialist to use when it came to every meal. Don’t eat low or no carb foods, they will make you tired and lethargic. I did that mistake and was told I could end up creating more problems for myself.
This is the chart I was given by my specialist to use when it came to my meal. Don’t eat low or no carb foods, they will make you tired and lethargic. I did that mistake and was told I could end up creating more problems for myself.
For more information and guidance, follow below links and let me know if you have any questions or just want to share your story.
Eatwell Guide: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/goodfood/Pages/the-eatwell-guide.aspx
Gestational Diabetes: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/Diabetes-the-basics/Gestational-diabetes/
GD Treatment: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/gestational-diabetes/Pages/Treatment.aspx
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