As you know, I am into healthy living – which includes a healthy diet and exercise. So when I went into the doctor to find out the results to my blood test I really wasn’t worried. However I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes…yikes! I really had no idea what that meant…I just knew diabetes seems serious and I would need to be on a strict diet if I didn’t want insulin shots. I was baffled by the fact that I at 23, on my first pregnancy was diagnosed with it! Was I actually not as healthy as I thought? I felt pretty terrible….and went straight home to dig into some serious research!
So if you are like me and have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes or know someone who has, or are simply interested in learning more about the subject this post is for you! I will discuss what I have learned about the cause and ways it can be treated. If you happen to know a lot more than I do about the subject, please leave a comment! I am always interested in learning more from other people’s research and experience.
So at 28 weeks pregnant I found out I have gestational diabetes. The first thing I wanted to know was…
Did I cause it!? The answer is NO. Although there are things that can make people more likely candidate’s for it – obesity, having diabetes before pregnancy, having had gestational diabetes during a different pregnancy etc. Nevertheless, there are many cases that seem unexplainable and are simply genetic. You can be in great shape and eat a fantastic diet and still get gestational diabetes because you are simply wired to get it. So if you have been diagnosed and feel terrible about yourself – don’t. You didn’t necessarily cause it!
Second, I wanted to understand what gestational diabetes really was.
WHAT IS IT?
Gestational diabetes is heightened blood sugar in a woman who is pregnant and did not have diabetes before pregnancy. The placenta can create hormones that heighten the amount of sugar in your blood and if your pancreas cannot handle the amount of sugar you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
Ok, so now we know what it is and why it is caused but the most important things I wanted to know were – what effect does this have on my baby and what can I do about it.
If my body isn’t able to process all that heightened sugar in my blood then it can go to my baby, causing his poor little pancreas to work extra hard to create insulin to process it. After he is born his body will be used to producing more insulin than it needs. All of this can cause your baby to be more likely to develop diabetes in his/her lifetime. Also, doctors worry about the baby being too big and possibly getting stuck in the birth canal. Obviously, this causes trauma for both the mother and baby! So…those are a few of the major risks involved with gestational diabetes. What can you do to avoid this!? MANY mothers with gestational diabetes have given birth to happy, healthy babies. So please don’t let the risk overwhelm you as I did at first!
Since I am careful about remaining as natural in my healthcare as I can (especially while pregnant) I was hoping there was something that could be done besides insulin shots to help me control my blood sugar during this pregnancy. Thankfully, I have a very naturally minded and supportive midwife who has lots of experience with helping women control their gestational diabetes through diet and exercise!
- So I picked up a glucometer at my local pharmacy and began taking a home blood sugar test 4 times a day – once when I first woke up (fasting level), and 1 hour after breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I recorded everything I ate for each meal and wrote down my blood sugar numbers. This helped me figure out what foods could be triggering my blood sugar to spike, and which foods were safe. Obviously simple carbohydrates and sugars are what is going to trigger elevated blood sugar. By using the glucometer, I figured out what grains or carbs were safe for me to eat (sourdough bread is very low in sugar, so as long as I ate it with protein my sugar levels were fine!). Every person’s body is different, so take some time to experiment with different foods! I found it best to always eat some sort of protein with any carb or fruit that I ate. Doing this, as well as cutting out almost all processed carbs and sugars, I was able to keep my blood sugar levels in a healthy range! I was told a healthy range is considered under 95 for fasting and under 130 1 hour after a meal.
- Exercise! This helps your body process the sugar better and is of course great for keeping your lungs and heart in shape during the pregnancy! I love going on walks!
- Don’t stress if you cannot get your blood sugar levels down even after changing o=your diet and exercise. There have been many VERY healthy people I know (and I mean marathon runner, never eat processed sugar types) who simply had bad cases of the gestational diabetes and needed to be on insulin shots. Ultimately, if this is what is best for your baby then you need to do it. God is in control of the outcome! Do not blame yourself for not being “healthy” enough!! PLEASE!
I hope my experience and tips will help you stay calm, trust the Lord, and help you better understand and manage your gestational diabetes. Please feel free to leave comments. I’d love to hear about what has helped you or answer any questions. God bless <3