*Disclaimer* This is not intended to be medical advice or to take the place of a medical professional. This is simply my story regarding my experience with gestational diabetes. Please always consult your doctor before anything regarding your health.
A few months past my pregnancy, I look back on this wild ride that I’ve taken. My daughter has brought me endless amounts of joy as well as challenges. One challenge I faced was being diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes are words no expectant mother wants to hear. It can be extremely scary, especially when you don’t know much about it. You might blame yourself, you might become depressed or angry, there are a ton of different emotions you might be going through. The good news is that there are a lot of resources out now and the constant monitoring will help with your baby’s safety.
I’ve described my story down below and a few tips on what helped me deal with my gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes isn’t something you hear in conversation too often.
Despite that fact, many women have had it during their pregnancy–some diagnosed and some slipping through the radar. Many women from my mother’s generation did not have to go through the testing while pregnant and the generation before hers was a rarity. Today, the testing is much better as well as mandatory.
The day I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes I felt like I had done something wrong and that it was a horrible and rare thing. The truth is, it’s actually pretty common. I hear as many as one out of six pregnant mothers have gestational diabetes. Quite a few of my husbands co-workers/co-worker’s wives had it, many women I spoke to, and my sister had it with her second pregnancy. This can happen to any woman of any size or shape, and your chances are higher if you have a family history of type 2 diabetes, over 25, overweight, and of a certain few ethnicity groups.
So let’s rewind a bit.
I had my glucose test at 28 weeks pregnant. My baby shower/reveal was on Saturday and went in on Monday to get my blood work done. I had been eating pretty healthy my entire pregnancy, but I ate a lot of sugar at the shower. A lot. My grandma made her famous bon bons and I pretty much ate as many as I could. Not the smartest idea…but I figured why not.
When my results came in a few hours after I had given blood work I thought that my overdose of sugar had skewed the results making them higher than they should be. Taking the long, three hour test and drinking more of that horrible glucose drink, wasn’t my cup of tea, but I wanted to make sure everything was okay.
My doctor recommended I wait a few days and then take the test. I ate really healthy that week (just in case) and I went in that Sunday–Mother’s Day. So three hours later, after receiving a bunch of pokes and thinking that I looked like a drug addict, I went home and waited for the results. A few hours later, I found out I failed two of the four tests. Fasting was fine, one hour failed, two hour failed, three hour was fine. I had gestational diabetes.
I felt devastated.
That night I spent the hours in deep thought. First I was upset, then angry, then scared, and finally I arrived at determination. Whatever I had to do I would do it so my baby would be safe. The next morning I searched the internet, researching whatever I could find on gestational diabetes. I read many different medical articles and blogs by women who had gone through it already. The blogs gave me a lot of hope and made me realize I wasn’t alone. They also reassured me that it wasn’t anything I did to bring this on. It was refreshing.
One blog I really want to point out, is Foy Update. She’s done her research and her post helped me really grasp what was going on. For anyone who wants a good understanding on gestational diabetes, I really recommend visiting her blog.
I went to a class on gestational diabetes. I found that had already researched everything the nutritionist informed us about in what we could and couldn’t eat (I’m a little obsessive when I research). Looking around the classroom, I noticed a lot of the women were all very healthy looking. That was also reassuring. It goes to show that it really can happen to anyone.
Okay, enough backstory, here are some things that helped me with gestational diabetes:
Don’t blame yourself.
Seriously, don’t. There are so many things out of your control, focus instead on what you can control. Take a day to get your emotions out, cry, scream, worry–then wake up the next day with a firm purpose.
Pricking your finger.
This is one thing I didn’t find in a lot of blogs–how difficult and painful was the needle prick going to be? I type, I cook, I do so many things with my hands, how painful will it be doing regular activities after poking myself four times a day?
My suggestions to you: get the smallest needle you can and only prick the sides of your finger. It helps so much. Some fingers will hurt more than others (I only poked my index and middle finger and every once and a while my ring finger) so you will need to figure out what works best for you. It took me a bit to work up the courage to prick myself, which is kinda ridiculous in my mind because I have a fantastic tolerance to pain. I think there’s something to causing yourself harm that sets off alarms in your head that causes that panic.
Don’t be scared. You’ll be okay.
Find a group.
Find one in person or online and no, it doesn’t have to officially be a “group.” I went on Instagram one day and on a whim looked for #gestationaldiabetes. I found a lot of women who were dealing with it and befriended them. I still follow a few of them and they really helped and encouraged me when I was down. Realizing you’re not in this alone can really help your mindset and your emotions.
After your eat, take a walk.
This was incredibly beneficial to me. I was only able to do it for a few short weeks because I had an irritable uterus. Whenever I exerted myself, I would have contractions. When I was able to walk after a meal, my glucose level would go down. Whatever you can do to move safely (and okayed by your doctor), you should do it. Being active is good for you as well as the baby.
Eat protein before carbs.
Food order matters. When you sit down at the table with your plate, the first thing that should be on your fork is protein. This will help slow down the release of insulin in your body. Eat your proteins, then your veggies, then your carbs. Your blood sugar has a better chance of not spiking when you eat this way. You also might be able to get away with eating some foods with a higher sugar content (like fruits, not that jelly donut your husband left on the counter) if your body responds well to this. Pay attention to your blood sugar results and see what foods work and don’t work for you.
Just because you have gestational diabetes doesn’t mean your food has to be bad!
It became my mission to experiment with food, making dishes both compatible to my strict diet and delicious. I had dabbled here and there with the paleo diet before pregnancy, and after being diagnosed I realized it pretty much worked with what I could eat. I played around and searched the internet (and Instagram) for paleo recipes. The recipes were incredibly tasty and I didn’t feel deprived at all. I really attribute it to my success.
Here are some foods I removed and some goals I had for each day:
All sweeteners–I know they’re delicious, but no you shouldn’t have them.
Breads–The class I went to suggested I eat whole grains every day, but I found this spiked my glucose levels like crazy. Removing bread stabilized it.
Dairy–For my own preference. I love cheese, but it doesn’t always love me.
Eat a variety of vegetables–This is to help prevent boredom. Try a new veggie every week.
Try recipes from different cultures–I loved finding new recipes I’ve never tried. A lot of cultures have a focus on vegetables which help add variety and also keeps you away from processed sugars.
Use your crockpot or pressure cooker often–This will make life easier when you’re having a rough day.
Remember, everyone is different and you need to test and know what works for your body as well as be honest with your doctor. You can get through this and please realize that there is a community of people who are going through this just like you. Reach out to them and they’ll embrace you. Eat your protein first, walk when you can, and try out fun and exciting recipes. Control what you can and remember you’re a wonderful mother for researching and doing all of this for your baby. <3