I’ve mentioned a few times in past posts that I didn’t have the bestest (yes, i wrote that) of pregnancies in the history of pregnancies. it was my first pregnancy so there is nothing I can compare it to but from what I experienced, it was pretty crappy – to say the least.The one crappy thing (among many) was that I developed gestational diabetes.
A little over half way through my pregnancy my midwife booked an appointment for me to do a glucose tolerance test to check for gestational diabetes. At the time I wasn’t worried because there is NO history of diabetes in my family so I didn’t even think I needed the test in the first place clearly I wasn’t at all educated about the condition and my midwife said it was highly recommended, especially to women of certain ethnic origins.
A lot of women don’t know about this condition until it happens so I thought I’d be helpful and give a little insight on what it is, what caused it and how to lower the risks of getting it, or at the very least how to manage it.
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is basically a condition where a mum-to-be who doesn’t otherwise have diabetes (like moi), develops high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. It is generally caused by your body not making up enough insulin to handle the build up of sugars caused by pregnancy hormones. It commonly occurs in the second trimester hence the reason why tests are carried out between weeks 24-28 of pregnancy. I think I did mine at week 24 or maybe 26 – I can quite remember now.
The condition normally affects those women whose body mass index (BMI) is 30+, those women who’ve had it in past pregnancies, those who’ve previously given birth to big babies, or those with family history of diabetes and lastly those of certain ethnic origins such as Asian, Black, etc. – as was the case for me.
I was required to fast for at least 12 hours the night before. The test itself consists of taking two blood samples to test my sugar levels before and after taking a sugary drink (Lucozade). I had to wait Two hours after drinking the solution before they could do the second blood test.
Gestational diabetes is a serious condition as it can essentially cause problems for the mum and baby during and after birth in the following ways:
* baby growing larger than usual
* premature birth or induction
* baby developing low blood sugar or (jaundice) after he or she is born.
Because it can be hereditary, gestational diabetes can sometimes be impossible to avoid, however my main tips in lowering its risk and managing it are as follows:
1. A balanced diet – it is important to avoid skipping meals and s the only thing I could stomach to eat during my pregnancy. Also, although fruits is generally natural sugars, some fruits such as bananas and grapes should be limited if not avoided altogether.
2. CARBS – because carbs break into sugar, I was advised to eat as little of it as possible. It’s funny because throughout my pregnancy all I could eat was bread but hey ho!
3. Blood sugar levels – this got a bit (very) tedious after a while but it is vital that you check your levels, especially after meals determine which meals increase the levels, etc.
4. Exercise – my mind really wanted to exercise but I was so tired throughout my pregnancy that it was near enough impossible to go to the gym. I generally enjoy walking and so that’s about all the exercise I could do but every little helps.
5. Medication and insulin shots – if GD can be avoid just by eating right and exercising then that’s great but if like me you need the extra help, then medication and eventually insulin help to manage the diabetes. The medicine made me sick so I was eventually taken off it and put on insulin as a last resort. Injecting myself became second nature but I found doing it four times a day such a chore.
The good news is that it does, or at least SHOULD go away after delivery. My blood sugar levels went back to normal within hours of delivering my daughter and a follow up test three months post-natal confirmed this. The downside was that my daughter was born with low blood sugar levels and she too had to do insulin shots every 2-3 hours from the moment she was born until the next day when her levels went back to normal.
To any mum in this situation, the number one important thing to remember is that sometimes it’s inevitable, i.e. you can eat a balanced diet and exercise and still get it because of other factors beyond your control. Try not to feel bad or guilty and do your best to manage the condition as well as you can.