Nationally, there has been a focus on diabetes given that the norm has increased over the years. With that, more practitioners including gynaecologists are encouraging pregnant women to go for the Gestational Diabetes test. This wasn’t as concerted just 3 years ago, and I wasn’t encouraged to go for one when I was pregnant with Junior. Staying guided by my gynae, I decided to take the test.
Disclaimer: I’m not a certified practitioner and neither am I an expert in this area, this is just my account and personal experience of how I coped with gestational diabetes.
What is Gestational Diabetes
In a nutshell, gestational diabetes is diagnosed during pregnancy. Like type 1 and type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes causes blood sugar levels to become too high. The digestive system breaks down most of the food into glucose and glucose enters the bloodstream so that the cells can use it as a fuel, with the help of insulin which is a kind of hormone that help cells to absorb the glucose from the blood. During pregnancy, the body naturally becomes more resistant to insulin so that the glucose is available to nourish the baby. But if the pancreas can’t keep up with the increased demand of insulin during pregnancy, blood sugar level rise too high which then result in gestational diabetes.
Will it affect the baby?
The good thing I’ve learnt is that it should not affect the baby too much except that he/she may pile on weight rapidly that might be risky during child-birth. Research shows that obese babies tend to also be obese later in life which could lead to alot of other diseases. While it does not affect babies, gestational diabetes are a lot riskier for mothers. Most mums will have their blood sugar regulated back to normal and gestational diabetes could disappear. However, there are cases that it remains in mothers even after child-birth.
What test did I went through?
In very layman terms, I had to fast for 9 hours before the test. Urine sample and blood test was done before I was given a bottle of glucose drink. I then waited for an hour and had my urine sample and blood taken again. After that, I rested for another hour before the last urine sample and blood was taken.
The result was that I had mild gestational diabetes. By right my 2 hourly reading and sugar level should have returned back to the normal range, however mine was slightly higher than what the normal range was. So when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, I was really worried. Praise the Lord that it was only mild. Importantly I was scared with what I was reading online and didn’t know what to expect. Arrangements was made for me to see the dietician who walked through with me on my food diet to keep the sugar level in check.
So here are some ways on how I coped with gestational diabetes:
Changes to my diet
This is definitely necessary and probably the one change that was extremely drastic. I went from eating/drinking anything and everything to being extremely selective. I had to stay away from flavoured sugar drinks and fruit juice. I relied mainly on water and low fat milk or unsweetened tea. I went from having 3 main full meals to 6 smaller meals so that the sugar intake in my body can be regulated. I cut out sweets and desserts like cakes, cookies, brownies etc. Although I did have cheat days on some tough days. I ate more vegetables and try to increase my fish intake. I even tried preparing lunch for myself for an entire week but found it to be too tiring and tedious as my pregnancy progresses. So I tried to opt for healthier food whenever I can. Think soupy stuff.
You are probably going to laugh and think this is easier said than done. Which you are absolutely right. I spent days being really worried and being extremely cautious about anything that I was putting into my mouth. I was so wound up tight that everyone around me could sense my fear. It was really not healthy for baby because I am sure she can feel my emotions. So consciously I knew I had to be less uptight, put my trust in God and watch my diet.
The dietician did tell me that the best thing to do if possible is to go for a walk after a meal. That could help regulate the blood sugar in the body as well. So as much as possible, I do try to head out to eat with my colleagues and take a leisure walk back to the office after. Because I hardly have time/energy to exercise these days, I do try to include walking as part of my daily routine.
It can be scary and worrying however with some support and changes to our lifestyle, we can certainly keep things in control. Feel free to reach out if you would like to learn more/exchange notes or need an listening ear.