A few months back, Lacey contacted me to share her knowledge on gestational diabetes. I am not usually one for posts on this type of stuff but I think it is important. My mom had it with me, so I always know I have a slight risk. I was fine with Landon and hope I am this time around. I thought I would let Lacey share her new mommy-to-be(well mommy now!) knowledge!
Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that afflicts pregnant women—lucky us huh? I wouldn’t have known anything about gestational diabetes until my own baby doctor suggested he test me, “just in case”. Well, it turned out that I was among the 1- to 3-percent of all pregnant women who develop gestation diabetes during pregnancy.
Since this is my first baby, and I was only 3 ½ months along, I wanted to learn as much as I could about this condition, what medication I would have to take (prescription insulin, which I now purchase online because Canadian drugs are so much cheaper), and how it would affect my life and my baby.
What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes can show itself as early as 20 weeks into pregnancy, but most typically it crops up during the second trimester. It occurs when the body isn’t able to use the sugar (glucose) in your blood as effectively as it could, which in turn causes the level of sugar in your blood stream to become higher than regular. It lasts for the remainder of your pregnancy then it typically disappears a few weeks after your baby is born.
Gestational diabetes isn’t a danger to you or your baby unless it’s left untreated. High blood sugar levels pulsing around in your body can be unhealthy for both mom and baby.
Gestational diabetes can affect baby in the following ways:
- Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes can have a low blood sugar levels
- The baby may suffer from jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin, mucus membranes, or eyes due to bilirubin (a byproduct of old red blood cells and the yellow breakdown of hemoglobin)
- Babies are often born at increased birth weights
Gestational diabetes can affect mom in the following ways:
- Difficult or painful delivery due to babies with increased birth weight
- Birth via cesarean section, which can include a lengthy healing process
- Increased risk of developing preeclampsia or pregnancy-induced hypertension
- Increased risk for diabetes during your next pregnancy
What happens post-diagnosis
In order to test for gestational diabetes, my doctor administered a regular blood test that checked my blood sugar level after fasting (which is killer when pregnant) and again soon after a meal. After I threatened to gnaw his arm off that morning, he told me that it was necessary to test the blood sugar levels without food as well as after a meal. Then he suggested the following lifestyle tweaks:
Diet: When my doctor diagnosed me with gestational diabetes, I was put on a special, balanced diet that consists of several small meals a day rather than 3 large meals. My diagnosis also included prescription insulin medication, taken to control my blood sugar. It was rough for the first few weeks when I no longer had an excuse to send my husband Jeff for middle of the night ice cream runs, but I soon swapped cookies for fresh fruit, which is likely saving me a bunch of added pregnancy pounds. I now snack on whole grain crackers with peanut butter (excellent carbs for nausea too) and if I’m craving sugar, some trail mix with dried fruit and raisins or fresh berries and yogurt do the trick.
Regular, daily exercise: My doctor suggested I do any type of exercise as long as it was safe for me and my unborn baby. I chose two types: walking 10 minutes after each meal and Hatha yoga (or gentle stretching) every other day. The regular exercise, especially the walks after meals, is keeping my blood sugar levels normal and I’m feeling really energetic.
Lacey Gilbert is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about women’s health issues. She is a first-time mom celebrating the new love of her life, Megan who was born in January of this year. With each article Lacey hopes to share some insight and humor to real life experiences that both her readers, and she and her husband Jeff, can learn something valuable from.