My name is AnnieLaurie and I have Gestational Diabetes.
Before you say I am making a big deal out of something a lot of people get (18% of pregnant women), let me just say that it *IS* a big deal and can cause serious complications for mom and baby. What isn’t a big deal, honestly, is WHY I, or any of my fellow moms to be, got this diagnosis.
When I first found out, I cried. Living in a country where Type 2 diabetes is on the rise, I felt like this diagnosis was MY fault and evidence of something I did wrong. I felt like I was already a terrible mother for putting my baby at risk. Then I went to school and learned the truth.
Facts I learned about Gestational Diabetes
I went to a 4 hour session at the hospital where I will deliver to learn what all of this new information means for me. I learned that it is not my fault that I got this diagnosis, that women’s hormones and bodies during pregnancy can get out of wack and that wonderfully complex and mysterious (temporary) organ (the placenta) has a HUGE implications on how our bodies process all kinds of hormones, including insulin. The placenta produces more glucose during pregnancy so no matter what you eat, your blood sugar can be elevated just because of how your body is producing and handling naturally occurring glucose and insulin. Additionally, 96% of women diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes see it go away after the baby is delivered.
I also learned that, because of this diagnosis, I am at a higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. When I pressed for more info I found out that that risk is based on statistics gathered from women who had GD and later developed Type 2; however these statistics are not based on factors outside of the women’s control (like a placenta jacking up your hormones) and don’t take into account how well the women surveyed took care of themselves after pregnancy. Bottom line: if you have GD and don’t continue eating healthy and exercising after your pregnancy, you may get Type 2. I submit that you may get Type 2 no matter if you had GD or not — its primarily the lifestyle choices that determine that, its not always due to an internal body response that you can’t control.
That said, while it is relieving to know that I did not CAUSE my Gestational Diabetes, it is at the same time a WAKE UP CALL to maintain a healthy lifestyle for my own health, and my family’s health, post-pregnancy.
How has gestational diabetes impacted my day-to-day life?
The biggest impact is the added chore of taking blood and testing it 4 times a day. Remembering to do it is a challenge, as is fitting it into an already packed schedule. I have not enjoyed stepping out of meetings to check my blood, thankfully my colleagues have been understanding, but its still uncomfortable and kind of embarrassing. Its also a challenge to eat 6 small meals a day – as recommended by my dietitian. Meal planning takes more time, because I need new recipes and have to do more prep-work to ensure my food is ready to “grab and go” during the busy work week. Not to mention the added expense of test strips that go for $1 and strip (remember I have to use 4 a day!). Thank God for good insurance coverage!
In some ways, Gestational Diabetes has also *improved* my life
Now that I am serious about eating healthy for life, I have discovered many new foods and recipes I enjoy that are good for me! I am establishing healthy habits now that will help me tremendously post pregnancy. From testing my blood sugar daily, I now know which foods really spike my glucose and ones that don’t (no more Panera bagels for me!). I am also VERY happy to report that I am successfully controlling my blood sugar levels with diet and exercise. I have only been above my required limits twice in two weeks — which is not bad when you consider I test 4 times a day every day. That is great and exciting news to me!! And my doctor!! In fact the large majority of my numbers are BELOW 100!! The waking/fasting limit is 95 and the other 3 tests during the day limits at 120. So I feel really good about how things are going.
Dispelling the Myths about Pregnancy Diabetes
The other good news is that many of the assumptions, dare I say rumors, about gestational diabetes are not all true. Just because you have gestational diabetes DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY MEAN you will have a big baby, not be able to deliver naturally, that your baby will have diabetes, and more. If you can’t get your blood sugar under control, those things CAN happen, but just because you have GD doesn’t necessarily mean that any of those things will happen to you. I have heard some stories of women who are automatically scheduled for a C section JUST BECAUSE they were diagnosed with GD. I am here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way and I am thankful I have a doctor who is encouraging and supporting me as I strive to do all within my power to keep this diagnosis under control.
So while my reality is having to deal with this unexpected and unwanted curve the road, I am feeling blessed and empowered knowing that I can control it with my food choices and exercising. I also know that this is not my fault and that I am in very good company with other moms who have successfully navigated this challenge.
I have noticed a lack of resources online, especially real life stories and blogs from other women who have dealt with this. So I am going to post a few more blogs about what I am learning, how I am dealing, and most importantly food ideas and menus that work for me. I am all about sharing the love and helping other pregnant women get through this because we are ALL in it together!