A heart to heart from a mom diagnosed with gestational diabetes
I see that you’ve just left your doctor’s appointment with the news that you’ve failed your glucose test and you’re now diagnosed with gestational diabetes and you’re understandably emotional.
Until this point, your pregnancy has been perfect- the classic textbook pregnancy. The baby has grown well. You haven’t experienced any unusual symptoms. You and your family are over the moon, excited about this new life forming inside you. Suddenly, you’re hit with this unexpected news.
As a result, major changes are about to occur. You’re now considered a high-risk pregnancy. Therefore, there’s a chance that you’ll lose your doctor because he/she doesn’t specialize in high-risk pregnancies. In addition, you will have to meet with a dietician because you will have to change your current diet to a diabetes-based diet. You might have to take medication like Metformin, Glyburide or Insulin in addition to diet. You now have to go to two appointments a week—a normal appointment and a weekly non-stress test (NST) and an ultrasound appointment up until delivery. In an instant, your pregnancy journey turned from peaceful to stressful and chaotic. You’re overwhelmed and scared for the baby.
You’re wondering, “How could this be? I’ve never had issues with diabetes.”
“I’ve been eating healthy and taking my prenatal vitamins. I’ve been following the doctor’s orders.”
You’re confused, angry and disappointed.
Take a deep breath.
Take another one.
I understand what you’re going through, because long ago this was me. I’ve been exactly where you are and how you’re feeling.
Know that this is not your fault. You did nothing to cause gestational diabetes. Our pregnancy causes our bodies to make more hormones, making our cells to use insulin less effectively, which is also known as insulin resistance. Some women might have insulin resistance before conceiving and with the extra hormones we make, this is a possible cause of gestational diabetes.
I know that this is hard to digest, but let me assure you that you’re going to be able to overcome this. In my experience, these tips helped me keep my blood sugar numbers normal while still making sure that my baby was still growing and healthy:
– Take prescribed medicine when directed
It’s vital to take any prescribed medicine as directed unless your doctor says otherwise. The medicine prescribed to you is usually temporary until delivery.
– Avoid ultra-processed and refined foods
Ultra-processed foods contain ingredients that cause inflammation and other issues, such as heart issues and high blood sugar numbers. Eat whole foods and limit the amount the starchy foods (white flour, rice, potatoes and corn) at each meal. Avoid sugary foods, drinks to prevent insulin resistance and high blood sugar numbers.
Try to incorporate a simple exercise routine like walking, swimming or water aerobics for healthy blood sugar and overall health.
– Get plenty of sleep
Make sure you get adequate sleep. Poor sleep is correlated to higher blood sugars. Snoring and sleep apnea are also possible signs of poor blood sugar control.
– Stay stress free
Protect your peace and mental health. Gestational diabetes can be a challenge to handle. Any additional stress will cause an increase in blood sugar. Therefore, only do what you can. Stay away from people and situations that cause you stress.
There’s one more thing that you must know and it’s probably the most important…
When your beautiful baby enters into the world, I know that a lot of your focus will be on your baby- and rightfully so. However, Mama, you have to prioritize your health, especially after delivery. It’s going to take awhile for your body to properly heal. It’s especially true when you have a high-risk condition like gestational diabetes.
Please follow up with your doctor after delivery.
I wish I could tell you that all cases of gestational diabetes would go away after delivery. For many, it does happen. However, there’s a small number of women who end up with diabetes postpartum. Sometimes it’s immediate, but for others it could take months or years. It’s very important to schedule your 6-12 week follow-up appointment to get screened for diabetes. If you’re tested negative, then continue to schedule a yearly A1c check every one to three years for the rest of your life. These tips will help build a solid foundation, turning them into a new lifestyle for yourself and your family.
Speaking of your family, you will also have to protect your growing child/children to make sure that they are taught healthy habits and nutrition so that their chances of being diagnosed with diabetes later in life are lowered.
I know that this is not something that you want to hear right now, but I would never forgive myself if I didn’t mention everything about my experience, because I am one of those women who’s now a full-blown diabetic five years postpartum. This is why I’m reaching out to you, even though I don’t know you. I want to see you and your family thrive. I want to see you and your family healthy. I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through during my pregnancies.
Unfortunately, gestational diabetes is not a one-and-done deal. It’s more like an alarm clock, a reminder from this day forward to take care of your health and the health of your family. I’ve learned this concept the hard way, but you have a chance to change the narrative, shift your thinking and battle this hurdle with grace, knowing that you have the tools you need.
You are stronger than you realize.
You’ve made it this far.
Don’t lose faith now.
You can still have a healthy pregnancy.
You and your baby will make it.
You will get through this.
Until Next Time,
The Genetic Diabetic