During my first pregnancy, I actually disliked (because hate is a bit too strong) being pregnant. I was sick from the get go up until I delivered my daughter.
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.
Unfortunately for me, I developed gestational diabetes in my first and now second pregnancy which has really taken its toll on me. Mind you this time around, I haven’t had as many issues as I did with baby number one. This may be because it’s a boy ghis time around or just that every pregnancy is different. Nonetheless it is disheartening that I have has this condition on both pregnancies which does indicate a high likelihood of getting type 2 diabetes later in life but….I serve a Mighty God so I have faith that it is just gestational.
Like myself,a lot of women don’t know about this condition until it happens so I thought it’d be helpful to give a little insight on what it is, what causes 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 was tested around the 26 week mark on both pregnancies.
The condition normally affects those women whose body mass index (BMI) is 30+, those women who’ve had it in past pregnancies (as I have), those who’ve previously given birth to big babies (my daughter was induced at 38.6 weeks and weighed 8lbs2), or those with family history of diabetes. Those of certain ethnic origins such as Asian, Black, etc. are also to be likely to develop it – hence the reason why I was tested in the first place.
The test involves fasting for least 12 hours the night before (a pregnant woman’s definition of hell). Followed by two blood samples to test sugar levels before and after taking a sugary drink that tastes like Lucozade.
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
Because it can be hereditary and also depends on how your body handles pregnancy, 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. Also, although fruits generally have natural sugars, some 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 both pregnancies all I could stomach 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 to determine which meals increase the levels, etc.
4. Exercise – during my first pregnancy I was always tired and worn out so besides the odd walk here and there, I didn’t do much execising. This time around I have toddler who loves to explore so I’m always on my feet.
5. Medication and insulin shots – if GD can be avoided just by eating right and exercising then that’s great but if like me you need the extra help, then medication and eventually insulin will help to manage the diabetes. The Metformin tables make me sick so I have to take smaller doses and I’m also on insulin. Injecting myself has become second nature but I find 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. I’m praying for the same results after I give birth to my son.
Because I have it again this time around and because baby boy is already measuring way too big, I’m expecting to be induced in the next couple of weeks at around 38 weeks. It’s not ideal but whatever is safest for the baby.
To mums 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 for yourself and your baby.