Gestational Diabetes & How To Manage It

Lifestyle, motherhood

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

* pre-eclampsia

* 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.

Love,

Lilia

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Is it weird that I miss being pregnant?

Lifestyle, motherhood

This to me is just shocking! Especially considering the fact that I HATED the experience. Well….hate is a big word so I’ll scrap that. I strongly disliked being pregnant. Yes, I know. How dare I say that I didn’t like being pregnant!! Pregnancy police, where ya at!

I understand that it’s often frowned upon for a woman/mother to say anything negative m about pregnancy and stuff but what can I say…I like living on the edge. 

The one main thing I hated ( that word again) about being pregnant was the morning sickness. I didn’t just have it in my first trimester either. Not only did I feel sick all through my pregnancy, I also threw up 97% of everyday that I was pregnant. I’m talking about the violent throwing up – whether I ate or not. Darn, I knew I had it bad when water made me throw up. Or that one time I threw up on myself whilst driving to work and cried like a baby because no one ever told me pregnancy be so difficult!!

As if that wasn’t bad, I also developed gestational diabetes. Can I just say no one  in my family has or has ever had diabetes so being told that I had it in pregnancy was mind boggling. I was initially put on medication whilst monitoring my diet but had to come off it a month later because it made me throw up – on top of the daily throwing up I was already experiencing. At this point I was so fed up and over it. I then had to go on insulin and inject myself 3 times a day as well as prick my fingers to test my blood up to 4 times a day. Uurrggh…Did I mention I HATE needles and blood?

So you get the picture. I had a very crazy pregnancy and that’s not to mention the expected aches and pains, sleeplessness, countless trips to the bathroom – oh and the pregnancy mask that took over my face and neck which I’m still battling to completely get rid of now. Let’s also not forget the hair I grew in places I didn’t know existed (still shavinmy goatee up to now)!

I know the pregnancy police will still frown at my negative tone. I don’t mean to sound Mimy at all. Yes, I couldn’t wait to meet my child. I loved our bond and the kicks were just what made my days in the midst of all of the chaos but to say I enjoyed my pregnancy would be a big fat lie. I couldn’t wait to get it over and done with. I was uncomfortable as all hell. Heartburn became my first (not second) name. 

So you can understand my shock at the realisation that I miss being pregnant. Who in their right mind would even want to think about pregnancy again after my experience, right! Well, me obviously. Don’t tell the other half but I’m already dreaming about my next pregnancy. I even know it’ll be twin boys and I cannot wait! Ha – I must be crazy!!
Love,
Lilia 

breast is best; fed is fed

Lifestyle, motherhood

As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I decided the I would exclusively breastfeed my baby because quite frankly, I was curious at the idea of a baby suckling on my breast for their survival (I’m just being honest)! 

Breastfeeding to me has always seemed like the easiest, most natural thing for a woman to do. In my head, I just knew that when my baby was born all I’d have to do is stick my nipple in her mouth and we’d get the party started. After all, this is what I’d seen my mum as well as other women do. I was so excited to embark on this bonding journey with my baby and provide her with food that was tailor made only for her. Add that to the endless Instagram posts I’d seen of mummies breastfeeding their babies and toddlers and campaigning about the goodness of breast milk and its health advantages, I just knew that I wanted to be one of those mums and ensure that my kid got a great start in life.

My midwife had suggested breastfeeding classes to teach me how to properly breastfeed a baby. I honestly thought it was ridiculous – even when she told me that it wasn’t always easy or possible. I mean how hard could it be? Wasn’t it the most natural thing only second to actually giving birth? So imagine my surprise or more like heartbreak when baby girl was born and i couldn’t get her to latch properly!!

When she was born and had been checked, she immediately given to me to feed her. I cockily tried to put my nipple in her mouth only to be told that I wasn’t doing it right – that I had to place my whole areola in her mouth. Talk about abloody  reality check!!

Because I developed gestational diabetes during my pregnancy and was on insulin towards the end of it, baby girl’s blood levels were low and had to be tested every two hours after birth. Also because I wasn’t able to get her to latch ‘properly’, the midwives decided to top up with formula just to regulate her sugar levels and avoid going to the care unit.

I felt so crushed and defeated as I gave my newborn her first bottle of formula. I felt like kicking myself for not going to the highly recommended breastfeeding classes but I was nonetheless so determined to breastfeed that I stuck to it although it was proving to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done – besides child labour of course.

I’d cry every time I tried to feed her and she wouldn’t latch properly. I was so angry and frustrated with myself – not to mention extremely exhausted and couldn’t for the life of me understand why it was so hard. To top that, my milk didn’t fully come for the first five days. I watched all the YouTube videos there were to watch and read all the web articles, downloaded apps – you name it. I even attheded breastfeeding clinics and spoke to Consultants. I felt like a failure. I tried to express but very little would come out. Top that with family pressures on the importance of breastfeeding and how Breast was best, I started to fall into depression. 

At this point baby girl was mainly taking formula rather than just as a top up and I honestly wanted to quit each time I attempted to breastfeed because it only made me miserable. I was however really determined to give it my all before throwing in the towel. Luckily, I had mummy friends who constantly called or texted to give me encouragement and also share their breastfeeding stories. I was shocked to learn that what I was experiencing was more common than I had thought. Knowing that I wasn’t alone made me feel slightly better about the whole situation. I soldiered on for a few weeks until one day bangs girl just latched and has never looked back.

I now do a combination of breast and formula, giving her a bottle at night as it’s just easier with the sleepiness but I have come to learn that giving your baby breast is not the be all and end all. Sure, it is especially designed for your baby but sometimes is just not possible to do – for a number of reasons. Although I stuck to it, I realise that some mums give up after a while and I can’t blame them. I too waned to give up every day.

The lesson I got out of my experience is that though breast may in fact be best – fed is fed. A fed baby, irrespective of breast or formula, is a happy baby!
Love,
Lilia 

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate 

Lifestyle, motherhood

Baby girl turned 8 weeks on Tuesday and was due a check up appointment which also included having her first shots.

I’ve never been against vaccinations. In fact up until recently I’ve always thought them to be mandatory- sort of like paying taxes haha! I mean I was vaccinated and everyone I know, from family to friends, has been vaccinated so it never occurred to me to ever opt out of getting my daughter vaccinated. I remember vaguely hearing about the possible correlation between vaccines and autism in the media following a celebrity whose child was diagnosed with autism but again as it’s never been something that was challenged by my family or anyone I know, I never paid mind to it as it was never an issue close to home.

My partner however has in the past expressed his feelibgs against vaccinations because to him they are unnecessary and more for the benefits of government and the pharmaceutical industry than for public wellness. So when baby girl was born the conversation arose and to be honest, I quickly made him understand tht the thought of risking my child’s life for an opinion or a person’s belief, even if the person was her dad, was just unfathomable. 

So as the date for her 8 week check up was approaching, I started getting a bit nervous and conflicted about my decision  because as a mother, you’re always questioning your actions and decisions and wondering if you’re doing the best thing for your child. I then did some research on the subject and weighed  up the  pros and cons of vaccinations just to be proactive and not make a decision blindly – especially as it involved my daughter’s health. To be honest, a lot of my findings were arguments for vaccination and those against it were more people’s personal views than actual facts.

I say this not to invalidate anyone’s belief against having their children vaccinated. I believe that every parent is different and therefore what’s best for each kid will also differ but for me, I decided to go for it because although I recognise that everything comes with its share of risks- whether for or against vaccinations – I strongly feel that the risks to vaccinate were less than not to vaccinate. I go back to the fact that both and my partner have been vaccinated as well as everyone I know. I honestly don’t know anyone in my circle who hasn’t been and i decided to rely on that evidence and of course said a prayer for extra assurance.

The first set consisted of 3 jabs and an oral one for the rotavirus. I had read about the side effects of the rotavirus so I knew to except baby girl to have tummy aches and be fussier than usual, which is exactly what happened. I felt bad for her suffering as it went on for nearly 24 hours but I am at peace with my decision to vaccinate. 

Having said that, I’m not looking forward to the next round!
Love,
Lilia